A group of Wandsworth schoolchildren were invited as guests of honour to a First World War commemoration in Canada.

Pupils from Beatrix Potter Primary School, Magdalen Road travelled to Newfoundland for the event at The National War Memorial on Sunday, July 1.

They were invited in recognition of the school’s 15-year project to trace the graves of Canadian soldiers in Earlsfield cemetery.

The project began in 2003, when pupils made a Remembrance Day visit to Earlsfield Cemetery and noticed that a number of graves were missing poppies.

Pupils discovered that the graves belonged to 17 Canadian soldiers, and one nurse, from the Newfoundland Regiment, all of whom had served during World War One and died in London General Hospital.

The children researched the story of each soldier, making contact with Canadian family members and forging links with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. For 15 years the school has taken care of the graves as if they belonged to their own families.

Steph Neale, headteacher at Beatrix Potter, said: “We were absolutely honoured to be invited to Newfoundland, to attend the Memorial and to meet for the first time with the soldiers’ relatives. Our 15-year project has become part of the very fabric of Beatrix Potter School, and has taught our pupils so much. It has been a journey of remembrance for the soldiers’ sacrifice and a journey of discovery about who they were and how they arrived in a quiet spot in our cemetery.”

The week’s visit also saw pupils meet with soldiers’ relatives for the first time and on Sunday, July 1 they attended a ceremony to mark the first day of The Battle of The Somme, where many of the fallen soldiers were injured.

The story attracted lots of media interest in Canada, and the children were accompanied by a TV film crew for part of their stay.

Beatrix Potter’s project, supported by Discovery Education, will continue after the summer.

Chris Nash from Discovery Education accompanied the school to Canada. He said: “The Newfoundland trip has been an incredible experience for the children. We’re looking forward to continuing their research next term and exploring the possibility of using AR and VR to take the project even further.”