TWO third year pupils from Belmont Academy bagged themselves a once-in-a-lifetime trip to France to observe the centenary of the Battle of Arras at Scotland’s national commemorations.

Students Duncan Taylor and Toby Clark were among 72 pupils representing each local authority in Scotland selected for the five-day trip. 

They were joined by a matching number of French and Canadian students at a memorial service at the Faubourg d’Amiens Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Arras on Sunday, April 9 where they will laid a wreath on behalf of the nations that fought together and place poppy crosses on graves.

Commenting on the trip beforehand, Duncan Taylor said: “I am looking forward to the trip as it’s an opportunity for young people, from all over Scotland, to appreciate for themselves the hardships faced by so many during the First World War.”

Toby Clark added: “I think this trip is a good idea as it brings young Scottish people together to remember the sacrifices Scotland made during this uncertain point in history.”

The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland conducted a Beating Retreat in the Place des Heros at 7.45pm.

The Battle of Arras, which took place between, April 9 and May 15, 1917, was part of a planned offensive by British and French forces. The average daily casualty rate was 4,076, which was higher than that at The Somme or the Third Battle of Ypres.

Of the approximate total 159,000 casualties, an estimated 18,000 were Scottish.

As well as participating in the Arras commemorations, students visited a range of other battlefields, cemeteries and memorials relating to the battles of Loos, the Somme and the Third Battle of Ypres.