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and maintained for some time an independent Britain, assuming the state of
Cæsar and founding a Roman-British Empire. The _Classis Britannica_ of the
Roman Empire had had its chief station on the Canche. With the revolt of
Carausius there was no longer a "British Fleet" of the Roman Empire, and
the _Classis Samarica_ (the Fleet of the Somme) took its place and had as
its task to hold the coasts of Gaul for the Roman Power against the
British Carausius. This Fleet of the Somme also had its base on the
Canche. Doubtless in the very early years of the Christian era there was
many a naval action between the British sea forces and those of the Romans
stationed on the Canche. Etaples is thus linked with the memory of
Carausius, the man who first taught England that her fate depended on the
holding of the Narrow Seas.

Etaples during the Great War was for long our chief hospital centre. In
the middle of the coast base line, having good railway communications with
most points, within sight and smell of the sea, the sand dunes around
Etaples were ideal for hospital hutments. To the Etaples hospitals there
came wounded from every battle-field. To them there came also in 1918 the
attacking air squadrons of the enemy, which accounts in part for the
number of nurses and other medical personnel buried in Etaples Cemetery.
One hospital at Etaples was set on fire and destroyed by the enemy. These
aircraft attacks on the Etaples hospitals came in June, 1918, when the
enemy concentrated his strategy on trying to cripple our means of supply.
They inflicted grave embarrassment on our High Command, for, at a time
when material was very scanty and lines of transport very congested, we
had to construct new hospitals elsewhere and move patients and staff. That
was probably the effect aimed at. The difference, from an enemy point of
view, in bombing a camp and a hospital is this: If you bomb a camp, you
kill a few men, but the camp does not move; if you bomb a hospital, you
kill a few patients, nurses, and doctors, and you force the hospital to
move (if it can move) to a safer place. But to the end of the war some
hospitals remained because it was impossible to move them.

In 1917 the hospitals at Etaples (which included eleven general, one
stationary, and four Red Cross hospitals and a convalescent depot) could
deal with 22,000 wounded or sick. The earliest burial in the cemetery
dates from May, 1915. The graves to-day number more than 11,000. Of these,
1,984 were from the Overseas Dominions, divided as follows: Canada, 1,122;
Australia, 461; New Zealand, 261; South Africa, 67; West Indies, 29;
India, 26; and Newfoundland, 18.

The site of Etaples Cemetery is very beautiful. It rises from the margin
of the sea in three great terraces, in the middle one of which is the
Stone of Remembrance and on the highest the Cross of Sacrifice, standing
up stark against a grove of pine trees. From the cemetery the valley of
the Canche flows up to the walls of Montreuil-sur-Mer, which was the
General Headquarters of the British Army from 1916 until the close of the

It was early when the King arrived at Etaples Cemetery. The sea was a soft
flood of silver grey in the morning light, and its salt breath, which is
the very vigour of our British blood, came up sharp and strong to meet the
smell of the pines, which is the smell of a ship's cordage. A seemly place
for the graves of a sailor race.

Outside the gates of Etaples Cemetery, the Mayor of Etaples and the
sub-prefect of Montreuil greeted the King, and there were presented to him
French veterans of the Great War and of the war of 1870. The King remained
a few moments talking with them and with two Anzac motor drivers, who are
of the very small band of the Australian Army Corps still remaining in
France. The King had expressed the wish that at this cemetery he should
meet representatives of the Dominions and visit with them the graves of
their fellow-countrymen. Accordingly, on entering the cemetery, the King
was met by the Hon. P. C. Larkin, High Commissioner for Canada; Sir James
Allen, High Commissioner for New Zealand; Sir Edgar Bowring, High
Commissioner for Newfoundland; Lieutenant-Colonel G. J. Hogben and Colonel
F. R. Collins, representing Australia and South Africa respectively in the
absence of their High Commissioners at the Genoa Conference. With each of
these in turn the King visited the graves of their Dominions, and spoke to
them in proud appreciation of the gallant aid that the children nations of
the Empire had given to the Mother Country. That this Imperial Cemetery
should stand by the side of the sea, the communicating bond of the
world-girdling British race, was referred to as the fitting thing.

Before leaving, the King showed, by an act of simple homage at the grave
of a soldier, his feeling of kinship with those comrades of his who had
fallen in the war. A woman in the West of England had written to the
Queen, as one mother to another, begging that she might lay on the tomb of
her dead son, Sergeant Matthew, R.A.S.C., in Etaples Cemetery, a spray of
forget-me-nots which she enclosed. The Queen was unable to be present (she
arrived later from Belgium), but confided the mission to the King. He had
brought with him the letter, and carried out reverently, dutifully the
pious task, taking care, accompanied by Mr. Harry Gosling and the
gardener, to find the grave and, bending down in homage, to place upon it
the mother's flowers. Standing by his side was Sir James Allen, the High
Commissioner for New Zealand, who had lost a son in Gallipoli.

Going up, then, to the Cross of Sacrifice, the King looked long out over
the marshalled graves to the sea, and turned back towards the pine wood
which encloses the cemetery on the east. From Etaples Cemetery the King
and his party returned to the train, and then proceeded along the
coastline to Wimereux Station, where they again took car and visited
Meerut Cemetery, which commemorates the devotion of India to the King
Emperor. Here rest men of every rank and every caste and every race of
India who crossed the black water to fight for their Emperor. This
cemetery, austere, remote, dark cypresses breaking the line of its turf,
with no flower nor Western symbol of remembrance and hope, records the
British respect for whatever form the aspiration towards God takes in the
human heart.

The King was met by General Sir Alexander Cobbe, V.C., representing the
Secretary of State for India, and the Mayor of the Commune of St. Martin,
in which commune the cemetery is situated. It was pointed out to the King
that some 330 native soldiers and followers were commemorated after the
disposition of their bodies according to their creeds. The headstones had
been erected by the Indian Soldiers' Fund, the walls around the cemetery
by the War Office.

The King inquired as to a central memorial in the cemetery, and was told
that probably a Great War stone would be erected in the centre, and that
in erecting headstones where required the War Graves Commission would
follow the same pattern as already existed in the cemetery. He suggested
that the crematorium might be now removed, and showed in other ways his
deep interest that all the sentiments should be respected of the kinfolk
of these men, of race and religion apart from our own but united to us in
the bond of a common sacrifice.

* * * * *

Now had come the last stage of the King's pilgrimage. Already outside the
port of Boulogne there was assembled a squadron of French destroyers to
escort him out of French waters, and further at sea a British squadron
waited to take over the guard. For all that their task to-day was to be
one of honour and ceremony, they could abate nothing of that eager,
crouching-forward attitude, and they seemed to sniff at every wave for a
submarine. They waited, hunters become courtiers, but the King for a time
turned his back to them, his duty not yet accomplished. He had seen the
graves of his sailors, soldiers, and airmen who had held to their trust by
sea and land and air, from the gates of Ypres to the banks of the Somme;
had mourned at their loss and had thrilled with the pride of their
courage. Now he went his way to the high Terlincthun Cemetery, by
Napoleon's column on the Boulogne cliffs, to say to his people what was in
his mind.

Of all the war cemeteries in France there is none more nobly planned than
this of Terlincthun. It is set at the foot of Napoleon's column, where
rested the right wing of the Grand Army when its face was turned towards
England. But the guardian sea lay between. It is on record that there was
offered to France a plan of conquering the Channel passage by the use of
submarine boats; and refused on the ground that the sentiment of humanity
would not tolerate the use of such a weapon even against warships. "It
seems impossible," wrote the French Minister for Marine, Admiral Pleville
de Pelley in 1801, "to serve a commission as belligerents to men who
employ such a method of destroying the fleets of the enemy." The British
dead can rest content and comradely beneath the monument of so gallant a

From its high wind-swept cliff, Terlincthun Cemetery looks over the
English Channel, and on a clear day the white cliffs of our coast shine
out in the distance. The Stone of Remembrance faces towards home, the
Cross of Sacrifice, bearing its great bronze sword, looks towards the old
enemy lines. Between, like guardian walls, are ranked the lines of
grave-stones, and around them flower-beds carpeted in this season with the
foliage of wallflowers. Happy was the choice of this flower for a
soldiers' grave-yard, since it loves to spread its tapestry of gold and
red over ramparts. The cemetery shelters 3,327 dead. They are in almost
all cases men who died at the base hospitals at Boulogne and Wimereux. But
some are the bodies of British seamen washed up on the coast and buried
here. Many graves are of Royal Air Force members. The graves of the Empire
dead number 2,551 of the Home Country, 277 Canadian, 88 Australian, 29 New
Zealand, 10 Newfoundland, one South African, one Guernsey, 33 South
African Native, and 5 West Indian Native. In addition, there are 92
American graves, 27 Italian, 4 Russian, 3 Polish, 2 Serbian, and 16 of
unknown nationality.

For this, the crowning act of homage, the King was joined by the Queen,
who had travelled that morning from Brussels. With the Royal Party were
Admiral the Earl Beatty and Field-Marshal the Earl Haig (who jointly
represented the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force). At the gate of the
cemetery the King and Queen were received by General de Castelnau,
representing the French Army; M. Cauzel, prefect of the Département of
Pas-de-Calais; Admiral Barthes, naval prefect of Cherbourg; General
Lacapelle, commanding the First Army Corps; General Philippeau, commanding
the Second Army Corps; Mgr. Julien, Bishop of Arras; M. de Lavergne,
K.B.E.; M. Lahan, sub-prefect of Boulogne; the Mayor of Boulogne, and
other French officials, and the members of the Imperial War Graves
Commission, whom it was His Majesty's expressed desire to meet at the
close of his pilgrimage. Mr. Herbert Baker, the architect who designed the
cemetery, and Captain A. W. Hill, D.Sc., were also present. Among the
French officials was M. Le Sous-Intendant Bezombes, C.B.E., who is the
administrative head of the French Government services dealing with their
own war graves. All who realize the extent of the French losses can
understand what a tremendous task falls to him; but he has never been too
busy to help our Commission in overcoming any of their difficulties. One
of the first acts of the King, after his arrival, was to express to M.
Bezombes and his staff the deep and sincere gratitude of the British
Empire for their ungrudging support and sympathy in this work. The
citizens of Boulogne had assembled around the cemetery and gave the King
and Queen a cordial greeting. Within the open space before the Cross of
Sacrifice were gathered many relatives of the dead, members of the British
Colony and of the staff of the Imperial War Graves Commission, and a
number of French sympathisers.

King George and Queen Mary, passing through an aisle between the serried
ranks of graves, advanced to the Cross of Sacrifice, and the King placed
at its foot his chaplet of red roses, palms, and bay, and stood at the
salute. The French Guard of Honour, clean, clear-cut figures in their
helmets of classic line, recalling the Roman Legionaries, came to the
salute, and for two hushed minutes, even as our whole realm stands for two
minutes on each 11th of November, all thoughts were given up to the memory
of the dead.

Still standing at the Cross of Sacrifice, the King turned his face then
towards the Stone of Remembrance, both in direct alignment with Napoleon's
Column, which closed the perspective, and, his voice vibrant with emotion,
but under rigid control, delivered his message to his people over all the
seas, in the name of the Queen and of himself: -

For the past few days I have been on a solemn pilgrimage in honour of
a people who died for all free men.

At the close of that pilgrimage, on which I followed ways already
marked by many footsteps of love and pride and grief, I should like to
send a message to all who have lost those dear to them in the Great
War, and in this the Queen joins me to-day, amidst these surroundings
so wonderfully typical of that single-hearted assembly of nations and
of races which form our Empire. For here, in their last quarters, lie
sons of every portion of that Empire, across, as it were, the
threshold of the Mother Island which they guarded that Freedom might
be saved in the uttermost ends of the earth.

For this, a generation of our manhood offered itself without question,
and almost without the need of a summons. Those proofs of virtue,
which we honour here to-day, are to be found throughout the world and
its waters - since we can truly say that the whole circuit of the earth
is girdled with the graves of our dead. Beyond the stately cemeteries
of France, across Italy, through Eastern Europe in wellnigh unbroken
chain they stretch, passing over the holy mount of Olives itself to
the farthest shores of the Indian and Pacific Oceans - from Zeebrugge
to Coronel, from Dunkirk to the hidden wildernesses of East Africa.

But in this fair land of France, which sustained the utmost fury of
the long strife, our brothers are numbered, alas! by hundreds of
thousands. They lie in the keeping of a tried and generous friend, a
resolute and chivalrous comrade-in-arms, who with ready and quick
sympathy has set aside for ever the soil in which they sleep, so that
we ourselves and our descendants may for all time reverently tend and
preserve their resting-places. And here, at Terlincthun, the shadow of
his monument falling almost across their graves, the greatest of
French soldiers - of all soldiers - stands guard over them. And this is
just, for, side by side with the descendants of his incomparable
armies, they defended his land in defending their own.

Never before in history have a people thus dedicated and maintained
individual memorials to their fallen, and, in the course of my
pilgrimage, I have many times asked myself whether there can be more
potent advocates of peace upon earth through the years to come, than
this massed multitude of silent witnesses to the desolation of war.
And I feel that, so long as we have faith in God's purposes, we cannot
but believe that the existence of these visible memorials will,
eventually, serve to draw all peoples together in sanity and
self-control, even as it has already set the relations between our
Empire and our allies on the deep-rooted bases of a common heroism and
a common agony.

Standing beneath this Cross of Sacrifice, facing the great Stone of
Remembrance, and compassed by these sternly simple headstones, we
remember, and must charge our children to remember, that, as our dead
were equal in sacrifice, so are they equal in honour, for the greatest
and the least of them have proved that sacrifice and honour are no
vain things, but truths by which the world lives.

Many of the cemeteries I have visited in the remoter and still
desolate districts of this sorely stricken land, where it has not yet
been possible to replace the wooden crosses by headstones, have been
made into beautiful gardens which are lovingly cared for by comrades
of the war. I rejoice I was fortunate enough to see these in the
spring, when the returning pulse of the year tells of unbroken life
that goes forward in the face of apparent loss and wreckage; and I
fervently pray that, both as nations and individuals, we may so order
our lives after the ideals for which our brethren died, that we may be
able to meet their gallant souls once more, humbly but unashamed.

General de Castelnau responded with like eloquence and feeling. Two
sentences of his reply voiced a sacred pledge: -

Nous garderons religieusement le dépôt sacré confié à notre dévotion,
ici, à Terlincthun, comme dans toutes les nécropoles du front qui, de
Boulogne à Belfort, jalonnent dans un funèbre alignement la voie
sacrée, le calvaire des souffrances, des agonies et des deuils gravi
la main dans la main par les valeureux combattants de nos deux

Et lorsque chargé des parfums de la Patrie toute proche, le vent du
large apportera à ces tombes la douce caresse du foyer natal, il se
confondra avec le souffle de piété tendre et fidèle dont sont pénétrés
toutes les âmes et tous les coeurs français pour les héros de
l'Angleterre et de la France qui, tombés côte à côte au champ
d'honneur, dorment côte à côte à l'ombre d'austères forêts de croix de
bois élevant vers le Ciel leurs bras de miséricorde et d'espérance.

General de Castelnau then laid at the foot of the Cross of Sacrifice a
wreath in the name of the Anglo-French Committee of our War Graves
Commission, and General Lacapelle another in the name of the French Army.

One more act of homage was to be made. The King and Queen, passing slowly
through the cemetery, ascended the steps to the Stone of Remembrance and
then, bending lowly, the Queen placed before the stone, over which was
draped the Union Jack - the merited pall of a soldier's tomb - a wreath of
rosemary for remembrance, and carnations, these last of the colour which
takes its name from the stricken battle-field of Magenta. The French Guard
of Honour saluted, lowering their standard. Its colours, mingled with the
colours of our flag and with the deep purple of the Queen's tribute,
suffused the white stone as with heroes' blood. The King and those around
him saluted, while from the bugles of the Coldstream and Grenadier Guards,
posted near the Great Napoleon's Column, there came the sound, as of a
long-drawn-out sigh, of "The Last Post."

There is no music, of all the music of the world, that so brings home to
the soldier's heart, proud sorrow, healing consolation. In the daily round
of his dutiful work "The Last Post" comes to tell him of the end of a day
of this troublous life, that the shades have lengthened, the evening
come, the busy world hushed, his work done, and he may rest. And, when he
goes to the graveside to say the last farewell to a comrade who has found
for ever peace, he hears again "The Last Post," to say to him that his
mate is not dead, but sleepeth, and will rise again. The common and
everyday use of the music takes nothing from its nobility, but constantly
communicates its message of immortality so as to make of it a habit of

The call of "The Last Post" ended; and to the closing moment of the King's
pilgrimage came a sense of over-powering emotion, which made men look
resolutely forward, not wishing to catch their neighbour's glance. The
spirits of the mighty army of the dead seemed to marshall in that God's
Acre, set high on the cliff looking over the sea; come to receive the
homage of the King, for whom they died, and to hear that in the land which
they saved their names will live for evermore.


The King's Thanks

On the point of leaving France, the King sent the following telegram to
the President of the French Republic: -

I have to-day brought to an end a visit to the graves of my countrymen
who gave their lives on the battle-fields of France, and now lie
covered by the same blood-stained soil as, alas! so many of their
heroic French brothers-in-arms.

Before leaving Boulogne, I desire, Monsieur le President, to send to
you from a full heart, and speaking in the name of all the people of
my Empire, a message of profound gratitude for the generous gift of
the ground for ever hallowed by the memories of common sorrows and
glories. These memories must recall for all time the sentiment of
faithful comradeship which inspired those who fell side by side in the
Great War, and which was bequeathed by them as a sacred legacy to our
two nations.

I would add an expression of my personal thanks to you, Monsieur le
President, and to the French people, among whom I have spent these
three days, for the touching sympathy with my desire to make this
pilgrimage in such privacy as was in harmony with my feeling of
reverent affection for the dead and respect for those to whom they are

The following message was sent to the King of the Belgians:

... May I add how touched I was by the sympathetic attitude of all
classes whom I met last Thursday, when visiting the graves of our dead
resting for ever on Belgian soil.

The King later caused the following letter to be sent to the Vice-Chairman
of the Imperial War Graves Commission: -

_May 17, 1922_.


The King desires me to thank you again for all the admirable
arrangements made by you in connection with the visit to the
cemeteries in Belgium and France, and to congratulate your staff on
their excellent work.

His Majesty was interested to learn the details of the organization of
the Commission, and is satisfied that, so long as it is superintended
by you and those who so loyally assist you, the public here and
Overseas can rest assured that the graves, wherever they may be, will
be properly cared for.

The King hopes you will take an opportunity of telling the members of
the Imperial War Graves Commission how much he appreciated their
presence at the ceremony at Terlincthun.[2] His Majesty also wishes
you to say that he trusts the High Commissioner and other
representatives of the Dominions will convey to their Governments and
people the great satisfaction he expressed to them personally at
Etaples at the care bestowed by the Commission on the graves of those
who lie so far from their homes. In all the cemeteries visited by His
Majesty, Dominion and British graves lay side by side, and the King
assures the people Overseas that these graves will be reverently and
lovingly guarded. It is a satisfaction to His Majesty that the
Imperial War Graves Commission has been so constituted that these
graves may be honoured for all time.

The King was impressed by the ability and efficiency of the gardeners
in the service of the Commission, and desires that his appreciation
may be expressed to them of the manner in which they carry out their
precious charge. Although the completion of these cemeteries must
necessarily take some time, especially in the still-devastated areas,
they may continue their work with the full conviction that they are
earning the deep gratitude of the relatives and friends of those whose
graves they tend.

Yours sincerely,

The High Commissioners cabled to the Governments and peoples of the
Dominions the terms of the King's assurance that the graves of their dead
will be honoured for all time.


[1] The total number of the dead of the British Empire in the Great War
was recently officially stated in the House of Commons to be 946,023,
distributed as follows: - Great Britain and Ireland, 743,702; Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Newfoundland, Colonies, 140,923;

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