Etaples was home to 16 hospitals and a convalescent depot, in addition to a number of reinforcement camps for Commonwealth soldiers and general barracks for the French Army.
Étaples Military Cemetery is the largest CWGC cemetery in France, and contains the remains of soldiers from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and Germany from both the Great War and WW 2. Of more than 11,500 soldiers in Étaples Military Cemetery, over 10,792 were casualties of the Great War who died in Étaples or the surrounding area. There are only 73 that are unidentified. In addition to the British and Commonwealth graves there are 658 German Great War burials.
Conditions in the hospitals, reinforcement camps and French general barracks was exceptionally grim except for officers who were billeted in Le Touquet on the other side of the river, which was out of bounds to other ranks. After two weeks, many of the wounded would rather return to the front with unhealed wounds than remain at Étaples.