Etaples Military Cemetery - History and Facts | History Hit

Etaples Military Cemetery

Etaples, Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy, France

The Etaples Military Cemetery is a commonwealth cemetery built on the former site of a WW1 military hospital.

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About Etaples Military Cemetery

The Etaples Military Cemetery stands on the former site of a vast military hospital complex used by the Allies during the First World War.

The Etaples Military Cemetery history

At its height in 1917, over 100,000 troops would have been camped here, either in training from the front or receiving treatment for wounds sustained. The hospitals themselves could cater for over 20,000 casualties at any one time.

The site was chosen due to it’s distance from the front lines but good transport links, meaning troops could be brought here quickly without being in danger of enemy land attacks.

The cemetery was inaugurated on May 14th, 1922 by King George V and General Douglas Haig.

Hospitals were again stationed at Etaples during the Second World War and the cemetery was used for burials from January 1940 until the evacuation at the end of May 1940. After the war, a number of graves were brought into the cemetery from other French burial grounds. Of the 119 Second World War burials, 38 are unidentified.

The Etaples Military Cemetery today

Today, the Etaples Military Cemetery contains the burials of over 10,000 Commonwealth troops and over 500 non-commonwealth combatants. The cemetery, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, remains the largest Commission cemetery in France.

The site contains the remains of soldiers from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and Germany. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has only published the number of Commonwealth and German dead buried in Étaples, although its records for the cemetery note that it contains ‘a few war graves of other nationalities’.

The Military Cemetery in Étaples could soon make it the entrance to the UNESCO World Heritage. Guided tours are available and last roughly an hour and 30 minutes.

Getting to The Etaples Military Cemetery

Etaples is a town about 27 kilometres south of Boulogne. From Calais, simply take the A16 southbound past Boulogne and exit at junction 26 to Étaples. If you are travelling by car, this journey should take no longer than an hour. The Military Cemetery is to the north of the town, on the west side of the road to Boulogne.

There is a car park on site and wheelchair access.

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