Flashback to 2019. While researching stories from around the UK, Swedish power metal legends Sabaton heard about the plight of the Heugh Battery Museum in Hartlepool. The museum, which is an independently run affair, worked and maintained by a staff of volunteers was facing imminent closure due to a lack of funds.
The band having heard about this and recognising the site’s historical importance as the only UK battlefield of the First World War were quick to organise a special t-shirt campaign that ultimately raised just over £4000 towards the museum’s goal.
With the band’s help, along with a number of local charity drives the museum was thankfully able to keep the doors open and continue its preservation of the historic site.
Now 2 years later, in advance of the release of their new album, Sabaton were finally able to visit the very site they helped save.
It’s an overcast day but the forecast rain has kindly held off and spirits are high as the band are shown around the various museum’s locations, along with its large collection of military vehicles and artefacts, by the museum’s military experts.
It was originally planned for guitarist Chris Rörland to be given the honour of firing the 25 Pounder saluting gun usually reserved for ceremonial events such as Remembrance Day and certain other anniversaries. A special occasion as Rörland, himself a veteran of the Swedish military, would be the first non-British veteran to fire the gun. Ultimately with current world events the band made the decision to not fire the gun but instead lower the barrel and burn the unused gunpowder charge out of respect.
Speaking about this decision, Rörland said “This is a huge honour. However, due to the current situation happening around now we have made the decision that we shall not fire today. There are too many guns firing already.”
Following this the band were busy being pulled away for various interviews and the like but still made time for an informal meet and greet outside with a group of local fans who had come down to the museum to meet the band and thank them for their continued support of the town’s local history.
Check out the gallery below for more photos from the day.
For more information and history about the site visit the museum’s website at:
Sabaton’s latest release ‘The War to End All Wars’ was released worldwide Friday 4th March via Nuclear Blast Records.
Words and Images by William Mawdsley