Gazetteer of the Western Front: Le Touquet

This page is about the hamlet of Le Touquet, which is in Belgium – if only just, for it is very close to the border with France. It is not the same as the much better known seaside resort of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, which also had some involvement in the Great War mainly due to the presence of military hospitals.

Le Touquet location

Le Touquet is not shown on all maps as it is a very small place. It can be seen here near Frelinghien.

Bailleul location

The fighting had come to Le Touquet in October 1914. It was soon entrenched by both sides. The red line on this very early trench map of 1915 shows the German trenches, in red. Le Touquet had been turned into a redoubt or small fortress, protecting the way to the bridge over the River Lys at Frelinghien. British and German forces fraternised here during the unofficial truce at Christmas 1914.

Bailleul Place

“The Barricade” at Le Touquet, 26 March 1915. Pictured is Captain O. W. McSheehy, Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to the 2nd Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). Imperial War Museum image Q51605 under non-commercial licence.

Part of a map contained in the April 1916 diary of the general staff of 12th Infantry Brigade. National Archives WO95/1501. Crown Copyright.

Bailleul plan

The British captured Le Touquet during the Battle of Messines in June 1917. This map, which dates to March 1918, shows British trenches in blue and German in red. Le Touquet was now a British redoubt and the German lines were across the river. This position fell into German hands very quickly when the offensive Operation “Georgette” extended into this sector on 10 April 1918. It was recaptured during the advance in Flanders in the summer of that year.

Visiting Le Touquet on your battlefield tour

Bailleul Place

This is Le Touquet today as seen at Google Maps. We are standing on the road coming from Frelinghien. The “South Barricade” once stood where the blue and cream house is, at the junction. There is no memorial or other trace of the Great War here now.

Must-see locations not far from Le Touquet

– the British and Commonwealth war graves on the main Ypres road north of Ploegsteert and within Ploegsteert wood. This includes the impressive Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing and it would be worth considering devoting some considerable time to see the memorial and cemeteries here. There is a cafe close by, too.

– the Bruce Bairnsfather plaque and memorials of the Christmas truce of 1914. These are most easily found by approaching from the main Ypres road north of Ploegsteert and following signs to St Yvov/ St Yves.

– the Christmas truce plaque in the public park in Frelinghien. This lies on the left hand side of the main road as you drive southwards through the village.

GPS tour guide

The above locations are all shown on the Long Long Trail’s Google Earth guide “Forgotten Front” (KMZ format file: right click this link and “Save Target As”. ).

Staying and refreshment in the area

As you might guess, Le Touquet is not well-endowed with places to eat, toilets and other facilities valued by battlefield tourists. Frelinghien is a pleasant village with cafes and a small supermarket. Further afield (and taking much longer as the centre can be quite busy) The large town of Armentieres has everything you need, although even here accommodation is limited.

See more places in the Gazetteer of the Western Front