TWO teenagers have returned from an emotional and poignant visit to the battlefields of World War One.

Turton School pupils George Booth and Tom Lagan were selected to take part in the First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours programme.

The government funded programme has been established to commemorate the centenary of the war by taking two pupils from every secondary school in England the chance to visit the battlefields on the Western Front between now and 2019.

The two went as historians to visit the Commonwealth War Grave sites of Tyne Cot Cemetery and the Somme and came back as young people with a greater understanding of the importance of remembering the fallen heroes, after seeing for themselves the huge sacrifice made for their “tomorrow” by those not much older than themselves.

Now they are passing on what they have learnt and their experiences to the local community, through newsletters, assemblies and other projects as part of the programme is for pupils to use their visit to impact on 110 local people.

Scott Tither, senior history teacher, said: “If this is achieved by the centenary project then the total number of people reached by 2019 will equal 888,246, which is equivalent to the number of British and Commonwealth soldiers who fell during the First World War.”

The teenagers visited Ulster Memorial Tower, and took part in a remembrance service at Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, where the Last Post is played in a ceremony which takes place every evening.

Forty young people applied to go on the trip and each one had to write an application letter outlining the reasons why they wanted to take part.

Mr Tither said: “Everybody has a link to the war, these two had family members who fought in the war.

“The two heard the personal stories of those who fought in the war, from our guides. They had a look in the trenches and went over the top, heard about the letters the soldiers would write home before going in to battle.

“I thought about how I would be feeling writing that letter home to my wife.”

He added: “The young people have a better understanding of the war, the impact it had not just on the soldiers but on the families.”

Since returning home, the two have continued to research their family — and the town’s —link with the First World War.

Already the moving visit has got many young people in the school talking asking questions.

And from his own experiences from the visit, Mr Tither says he will creating the feeling of trench warfare, using school grounds to deepen young people’s understanding of World War One and bringing in the stories of individuals who fought in the war.

Tom, aged 15, said: “Through this project, I realised I had a relative who fought, it was great grandma’s uncle.

“They gave their today for our tomorrow, it is because of them we have our freedoms, it is so important to remember.

“It would take four months to read out every name at Tyne Cot Cemetery.

“Taking part in the programme gives you a real perspective of what happened.

George added:”This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to remember the sacrifice they made.

“When you go there you realise how important it is to remember.

”You see the trenches and how awful it was for the soldiers.

"The visit has had a big impact."