France 2004

     

A visit to France, to walk in Ada's footsteps seemed necessary for any real understanding of her life there. Using her photographs and notebook entries as a guide Wimereux, near Boulogne, and Arras were chosen as bases.

The journey must have been similar to Ada's in some ways. It involved travel by ferry to the UK south coast, then train to London with an overnight stay there followed by another train then a ferry to Calais. However I travelled in summer as a holidaymaker on a fast catamaran, and clean, modern trains, then stayed in a comfortable hotel before taking a big cross Channel ferry to France. Ada however would have travelled on small steamships during wartime in all weathers, in waters where submarines were active. Everywhere would have been crowded with troops being shipped in and the injured and those on leave travelling home.

Wimereux, the first stop, was chosen because it was close to Boulogne where Ada worked for some time. We have recently discovered that the headquarters for the Salvation Army with the B.E.F. was in Wimereux.

Also in November 1918 she was a victim of the Spanish Influenza epidemic. Her notebook states that she was admitted to General Army Hospital No 14, at Chateau Meurice, Wimereux.

The Hotel Paul et Virginie, chosen as the base for exploration of this area, turned out to be located in the former stables of the Chateau Meurice! The current owner confirmed that it had been used as a hospital during the Great War.

The original house still exists and is now called 'Les Meuriciens'.

Les Maurice

Les Meuriciens

One of Ada's postcards showed this view of Les Rivages in Wimereux. The photograph may have been taken prior to The Great War.

The current photograph shows many of the same buildings although most have been extensively modernised. Wimereux itself remains a charming and relatively unspoiled seaside resort.

Les Rivages then

Les Rivages
Then

Les Rivages now

Les Rivages
Now