Pupils track down graves of Sunderland World War One heroes in the Somme

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PUPILS played history detectives to track down the graves of Wearside soldiers who lost their lives in conflict.

Youngsters from Springwell Dene Academy in Sunderland journeyed to the Somme in France to identify Wearside heroes who died in the First World War battle.

Pupils from Springwell Dene school, Finn Harrison, Bailey Hunter, Daniel Garrett and Joe Blenkiron back from their recent visit to The Somme with their teacher, Paul Ramsey.

Pupils from Springwell Dene school, Finn Harrison, Bailey Hunter, Daniel Garrett and Joe Blenkiron back from their recent visit to The Somme with their teacher, Paul Ramsey.

After identifying the names of those they were sent to find, they then left a cross on each one and took a picture of the person’s name before leaving the cemetery.

The Echo reported earlier this year that those heading across the Channel from the school were appealing to relatives of those who died on the infamous battlefield to contact them.

One of them was Ronnie Vose, of Ryhope, whose grandfather Corporal George Vose, of the Second Battalion the Northumberland Fusiliers, was killed at the Somme on October 1, 1915, at the age of 39.

“I saw the story in the Echo and cut it out, but I put it away somewhere and forgot about it,” said Mr Vose, 74, a former shipyard worker.

“But I remembered and got in touch just a few days before the kids went away.

“I can’t afford to go over myself and, to be honest, I don’t think I could because I’m a bit of a blubberer and might have got upset.”

The pupils managed to locate Corporal Vose’s name on a memorial wall, something which his grandson will be eternally grateful for.

“When the children came back and told me they’d found it, I was so pleased,” added Mr Vose.

“I can’t thank them enough for what they have done.”

Pupil Daniel Hill, 15, of Houghton, was one of those who took part in the trip.

“We’ve learned lots about the war by doing the research before we went,” said Daniel, who was on his first trip abroad.

“It was quite upsetting because a lot of them were only 18 or 19 when they died, but the relatives of the people are really happy that we went.”

Joe Blenkiron, 13, from Springwell said: “It was a fun trip but educational as well, and we got to learn a lot about the wars.”

It is the fourth year the school has made the trip to the Somme, and pupils have never failed to locate a grave or memorial.

Assistant headteacher Alan Douglas said: “The children have represented the school very well, and we are proud of them.

“I’d like to think in maybe 20 years’ time that these lads see some of the memorials and take their children to go and see them, because it’s important to remember the past.”