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.
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'.