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Étaples Military Cemetery
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Used for those deceased 1914-18, 1940
Location 50°32′07″N 1°37′21″E / 50.53528°N 1.6225°E / 50.53528; 1.6225Coordinates: 50°32′07″N 1°37′21″E / 50.53528°N 1.6225°E / 50.53528; 1.6225 near Étaples, Pas-de-Calais
Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens
Total burials Over 11,500
Burials by nation
UK - 8819
Canada - 1145
Australia - 464
New Zealand - 260
South Africa - 68
India - 17
Germany - 658
Burials by war
First World War - 10773
Second World War - 119
Statistics source:

Étaples Military Cemetery is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in Étaples, near Boulogne on the north-west coast of France. The cemetery holds over 11,500 dead from both World War I and World War II.[1]



Étaples was the scene of much Allied activity during World War One due to its safety from attack by enemy land forces and the existence of railway connections with both the northern and southern battlefields.[1] The town was home to 16 hospitals and a convalescent depot, in addition to a number of reinforcement camps for Commonwealth soldiers and general barracks for the French Army.[1] Of more than 11,500 soldiers interred in Étaples Military Cemetery, over 10,000 of these men were casualties of World War One who died in Étaples or the surrounding area.[1]

The abundance of military infrastructure in Étaples gave the town a capacity of around 100,000 troops in World War One and made the area a serious target for German aerial bombing raids, from which the town suffered heavily. The combination of withstanding these attacks and giving over their homes to the war effort led to Étaples being awarded the Croix de Guerre in 1920.[2]

The Second World War once again saw Allied hospitals stationed in Étaples, and with them the reopening of the cemetery to cope with the casualties of another war. 119 men were buried in Étaples Military Cemetery in World War Two, this low number attributable to the fact that the hospitals were only in place from January 1940 until the British withdrawal from the Continent in May of the same year.[1]

The cemetery

Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, Étaples Military Cemetery is the largest CWGC cemetery in France,[1] and contains the remains of soldiers from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and Germany.[3] 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'.[1]

In total, the cemetery contains 10,792 Commonwealth burials of which only 73 are unidentified. There are also 658 German burials in the cemetery.


Victoria Cross

Among the large number of burials at Étaples lies the body of one Victoria Cross winner, that of Major Douglas Reynolds, VC of the Royal Field Artillery.[3]

2003 vandalism

In March 2003, vandals protesting against the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq daubed anti-British and anti-American slogans in red paint across parts of the Étaples Military Cemetery. The actions drew widespread condemnation from the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia and from within France itself. The French National Assembly described the vandalism as 'barbaric, monstrous and utterly despicable', while French President Jacques Chirac wrote to the Queen to express his 'sincere regrets'.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Étaples Military Cemetery: Cemetery Details, Commonwealth War Graves Commission,, URL accessed 24 November 2007
  2. ^ (French) Baudelicque, Pierre L’HISTOIRE DE LA CITÉ DES PÊCHEURS, Site d'Etaples,, URL accessed 24 November 2007
  3. ^ a b Whittam, Brent and Heard, Terry Etaples Military Cemetery, Etaples, Pas de Calais, France,, URL accessed 24 November 2007
  4. ^ Bremner, Charles and Hamilton, Alan Chirac apologises to Queen for attack The Times, 4 April 2003,, URL accessed 24 November 2007

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