Pupils on a mission to find fallen soldiers’ graves

POIGNANT TRIP: Springwell Dene Academy pupils, from left, Kain Sloanes, Adam Danby, Brad Kinnair, Lewis Dixon and Jordan Christer with teacher Paul Ramsay.
POIGNANT TRIP: Springwell Dene Academy pupils, from left, Kain Sloanes, Adam Danby, Brad Kinnair, Lewis Dixon and Jordan Christer with teacher Paul Ramsay.
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PUPILS are preparing to head across the Channel to honour Wearside’s war heroes – and they need your help in tracking them down.

For the past five years, youngsters from Springwell Dene Academy in Sunderland have journeyed to the First World War battlefields of France.

POIGNANT: Pupils from Springwell Dene Academy look at war graves in France in summer 2014

POIGNANT: Pupils from Springwell Dene Academy look at war graves in France in summer 2014

The trip sees the youngsters locate the war graves of soldiers for their relatives.

After finding the memorial of a particular person, they then take a picture before leaving a cross on each memorial to commemorate their visit.

This year’s trip will see pupils and staff set off for France on June 19, and they are now hoping that readers who have relatives who died fighting, will get in contact and provide names.

Assistant head at the school, Allan Douglas, said: “During the last five years the school has tracked down more than 27 soldiers, and have never failed to find a grave or memorial.

“The students tour the area over a period of one week and visit the many historical sites in the area, particularly those where men from North East regiments saw action.”

Jordan Christer, 15, said: “I am looking forward to it because people can’t always go to France and lay a wreath themselves.

“It will mean a lot to them.”

Mr Douglas added that he is delighted the trip is going ahead again this year thanks to a second year of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Last year, a student found someone who had lived in the next street to where he lives in Hendon.

“It brings home to the students the history of the war and makes it a bit more real for them,” added Mr Douglas.

“It changes things from being just a list of names on a wall.”

Once the pupils return from their trip, they will present their findings at a presentation evening later this year.

Paul Ramsey, another staff member who is making the trip to France, said: “It’s great, not just socially for them and our links with the older generation, but also educational-wise it’s brilliant too.”

Readers hoping to find graves of their relatives which are buried in the Somme region, should call the school on 553 6067.

Those calling are asked to provide any information they may have about their relative, such as name, service number, rank and the regiment they served in.