For the first time students from Devizes School will be able to search out the graves of soldiers from their own area when they visit the World War One battlefields in Belgium this week.
Thanks to local author Richard Broadhead’s generosity, the young people will have access to information about the sites of graves of heroes not much older than themselves who gave their lives for their country between 1914 and 1918.
Mr Broadhead visited Devizes School last week to distribute 30 copies of his own book, The Great War – Devizes District Soldiers, to aid their research.
Today, 60 students are travelling to Flanders and the Somme battlefields and will carry out individual acts of remembrance.
Each student will be given the name of a fallen soldier from Devizes and surrounding villages and, after researching their lives with the help of Mr Broadhead’s book, they will find their memorial or grave where they will place a cross of remembrance.
Mr Broadhead said: “I hope that this format of remembrance can be replicated for all schools across Wiltshire and the country. Devizes School and head of history Tom Strickland should be applauded for pioneering this unique project.”
Tom Jelves, a Year 10 student, said: “I expect following a real soldier from Devizes to his actual place of commemoration will be very moving.”
Mr Broadhead spent three years researching the book, which tells the stories of the fallen of Devizes and district and gives a unique and detailed insight into the lives of the local servicemen who lost their lives in the Great War.
Mr Broadhead is the founder of Finding the Forgotten, which is responsible for the clean-up of a war grave in Devizes Cemetery and the commemoration of two forgotten servicemen, John Martin and Reginald Sloper, who are buried there.