, , ,

On 11th March, 1917, D Boutguin (address Hôpital complémentaire 25, Eu – a temporary hospital) wrote a card to a Mademoiselle Suzanne Sorano in Toulouse, sending her, “A friendly hello from le Tréport 3½ km from Eu, where I’m spending Sunday afternoon in lovely weather.”

I don’t know whether he was a patient or a doctor, but this is likely to be the sort of scene he would have enjoyed:

The elegant villas have long gone, replaced by soulless seafront apartments, but the 1908 funiculaire, with its Parisien Metro style of architecture, has recently been restored. In its heyday it transported summer visitors up to the spectacular hotel Trianon on the cliff tops.

I was amazed to come across this card [below] recently. It was an insight into wartime le Tréport and something I hadn’t ever considered. I thought of the convalescent British and Canadian soldiers venturing out of the Trianon and the huge assembly of associated hospital tents on a warm day, taking in the sea air on the cliff tops, perhaps being able to glimpse the cliffs of England if it was a clear day – and then this, happening directly underneath, this vast number of troops on a promenade to a pleasure beach. The confusion of noise… the feet marching, the orders, the clinking of equipment… the waves relentlessly rolling onto the beach and perpetually breaking on the lighthouse promontory, oblivious to all wars.

Most balconies are busy with spectators and groups have gathered on the pavement. Curious onlookers crowd and spill over on to the beach. Do any of them know a soldier, I wonder? You can just see the tunnel of the funiculaire to the left hand side of the picture. I have a bit of a suspicion that the plane is a later addition!

I haven’t been able to find out what the event was* (apart from a review of troops). The card was posted in 1917. The image is credited to Arnault, a commercial photographer in le Tréport. I own this particular card but it’s been reproduced in the collection of an Alice Isaacson, so I assume that the picture was readily available for interested purchasers at the time.

*Edit: please read comment by Jean-Luc below.

(I bought these cards. Please don’t borrow them without asking me.)