Rendez-vous at Wimereux Communal Cemetery
Commonwealth Cemetery of Wimereux, like that of Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, is
unusual in that the headstones were laid flat upon the war graves because the
sandy soil could not provide them with a stable footing.
of the 2,847 war graves in the cemetery are not military, but the final resting
places of nurses who worked in the large field hospital, set up on the
coast by the British Army during the Great War.
In 1917 no
fewer than ten hospitals were operating in Wimereux to care for the wounded and
sick soldiers returning from the Western Front. Those who succumbed to their
wounds were buried in the town's cemetery; however by 1918 a lack of available
space meant that a new cemetery had to be opened in nearby Wimille, the Terlincthun
to the logistical bases centred on the ports, 50 hospitals were set up by
the British Army in the coastal towns of Calais, Wimereux, Boulogne,
Dannes-Camiers, Étaples, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage and Saint-Omer.
Near to the
Cross of Sacrifice, one grave in particular stands out in Wimereux Cemetery
because of the small Canadian flags and paper poppies which adorn it. It is the
final resting place of the poet Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. A Canadian
doctor, McCrae served at Ypres where he cared for soldiers wounded in the
second battle there in April and May 1915. It was also in Ypres that he lost a
close friend who was later buried in a makeshift cemetery. This event inspired
him to write his famous poem, In Flanders Fields, which begins thus:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
does the poppy represent the soldiers who fell on the battlefield, it is also a
symbol of hope because it is the first species of flower to grow on ground
ravaged by war. In the aftermath of the Great War the popularity of In Flanders
Fields did much to install the poppy as the symbol of remembrance throughout
the Commonwealth Countries.