SCHOOL pupils from across the North-East are travelling to the Western Front to pay their respects to those killed in the British Army's first major World War One offensive 100 years ago.

The centenary of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle will be marked at the French town on Tuesday, March 10.

Two pupils and one teacher from Elemore Hall Residential School, Seaham School of Technology, Tanfield School, Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy, The North Durham Academy and Durham Six Form Centre will join a group travelling from around UK.

It is part of the government-funded First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme - a national education programme and battlefield tour run by the UCL Institute of Education and school tour operator Equity.

Early on Tuesday the group will travel from their base in Ypres, Belgium, to Neuve Chapelle, France, to stand on the very spot where 100 years ago to the day the offensive was launched.

On 10 March 1915 four divisions including those of the Indian Army, comprising 40,000 men, prepared to launch an infantry attack which was preceded by a heavy bombardment.

The objective was to take the German-held village of Neuve Chapelle and advance to the ridge beyond.

The battle continued for three days and when fighting ceased on March 13 British gains were limited to an area two kilometres deep and three kilometres wide - for a loss of 7,000 British and 4,200 Indian soldiers, killed or wounded.