North Wiltshire MP James Gray is to visit all of his constituency’s 209 war graves as part of the First World War centenary year commemorations.

And he is calling on his fellow MPs to do the same.

In an intervention during yesterday’s debate on the First World War commemorations, which was opened by South West Wiltshire’s Dr Andrew Murrison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Gray said: “I pay tribute to the way in which my Hon. Friend is laying out the plans for this great year.

"The Commonwealth War Graves Commission recently took me around several of the war graves in my constituency.

"I have set about visiting all 55 churchyards with Commonwealth war graves in my constituency, 209 graves in total.

"Whether I will achieve that, we will have to see. I am taking with me children from local primary and secondary schools that are near those graves. That may be an initiative that others want to follow.”

The Minister responded: “I commend my Hon. Friend’s project. Other Hon. Members will wish to emulate it.

"Like me, he has a large number of Commonwealth war graves in his constituency.

"I know that primary schools in particular in my constituency are keen to honour the fallen. Several of those schools have similar projects.

"The centenary will be an occasion when our minds will be focused closely on the subject. I suspect that, over the four years, interest will increase, particularly in schools.

"I hope that MPs will be able to take the lead in promoting that, as my Hon. Friend has done in his constituency. It is important that Parliamentarians apply leadership in such matters.

"I am confident, given the interest among colleagues, that they will do precisely that.”

Speaking in Wiltshire this morning, Mr Gray said: “I was so delighted to have the opportunity of visiting some of the 209 war graves in North Wiltshire on sixth June, and to have such an informative tour of the sites with Andy Knowlson from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

"I have now written to a number of schools in North Wiltshire, to invite them to join me in visiting neighbouring cemeteries and churchyards so that our young people can participate in honouring the graves and the memory of Wiltshire residents who fell in the First and Second World Wars.

"We must do our best to make sure that these soldiers are remembered by generations to come.”