A NEW campaign to help preserve the memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War has been launched across the county.

The 18-month project invites all primary schools across Oxfordshire to visit their nearest war memorial and record all of the names and dates of those who served.

It aims to inspire interest in the war, not only to understand its global implications, but also on how it affected local communities and families that may still live in the area.

A number of schoolchildren gathered at the St Giles' War Memorial, Oxford, yesterday afternoon to mark the start of the campaign.

Lynda Atkins, Oxfordshire county councillor for Wallingford and county chairman for the Royal British Legion, is spearheading the project.

She said at the launch event: "We want to help young people get involved and get interested in their history.

"We are asking every primary school to go out and find their war memorial and collect the names and dates, but that is really just the start.

"We hope that what they will then do is research these memorials and most communities will find that from the names there maybe still people in the community and it isn't just anonymous name, its somebody's great granddad."

Ms Atkins said an estimated 8,000 service men and women from Oxfordshire have died in conflicts around the world since the outbreak of the First World War.

She also backs a simultaneous campaign by Historic England to list every single war memorial in the country.

Headteacher at the Wallingford's Fir Tree Junior School Nilofer Khan, whose pupils took part yesterday, said: "It's important to remember the children's families that were in the wars.

"It also helps us remember the changes the wars brought to everyone's lives and for the children to see how these changes impacted on their lives."

She said that she also supported the campaign to list every war memorial and added: "History can be in the present and the present can be the future, and children are a big part of that."

Three Year 6 children from the school were also at the launch event. Emily Gesener, Sean Wells and Hannah Pannett, all aged 11, were the first to visit the cenotaph to mark the launch of the campaign.

Emily said: "We are here today with Ms Khan because of the memorial and to remember the people that have fought in the war.

"My great grandfather was an Italian soldier in the war so he has seen both sides and he tells us lots of stories.

"I think he wants to tell us because he knows we think it is interesting and we like to hear about it. It's quite nice to know about the past and what it was like when he was younger."

The campaign is optional and all Oxfordshire schools have been invited to take part.