World War l
During the 1914-1918 war Dover became one of the most important military centres in Britain. Vast amounts of men crossed from Dover to France.
The harbour was home to the Dover Patrol, a varied collection of warships and fishing vessels which protected Britain's vital control of the channel.
The first bomb to be dropped on England fell near Dover Castle on Christmas Eve 1914.
Regular shelling from warships and bombing from aeroplane and zeppelin forced residents to shelter in caves and dug-outs. The town became known as 'Fortress Dover' and was put under martial law. By the end of WWl a total of 184 bombs were dropped on the town, and 23 shells were fired from enemy ships.
World War ll
Because of its close proximity to France, Dover was Britain’s main frontline town during World War ll. As Dover was under threat from long-range weapons on the opposite side of the Channel, Churchill took this seriously. “We must insist upon maintaining superior artillery positions on the Dover promontory no matter what form of attack they are exposed to. We must fight for command of the Strait”. (Speech made by Churchill in 1940.)
During 1939, the Admiralty took control of the port of Dover transforming the harbour into a naval base. Dover suffered heavily because of enemy shelling and bombing raids, causing huge amounts of damage. Despite this, Dover Castle remained untouched by enemy bombs, becoming the symbol of Dover’s strength during the war.
Duration Minimum 3 hours
At 18:57 hours on 26th May 1940, the signal was received to start Operation Dynamo – the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and French Troops from Dunkirk’s beaches on the northern coast of France.
The network of underground tunnels beneath Dover Castle became the nerve centre of the whole operation.
Despite estimates that only 45,000 troops could be brought back, Winston Churchill announced to the House of Commons on 4 June that 338,000 troops had been saved. Today you can experience life as it was lived by the 700 personnel based here in the worst days of the Second World War.
Visit The National Memorial to the Few at Capel-le-Ferne near Dover. A memorial to the aircrew who won the Battle of Britain in 1940.
The stone figure of a pilot in contemplative mood stands as a permanent tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of those who served their country.
Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh opened the iconic new wing building in March 2015.
Duration 2 hours
The museum is on the site of the former Hawkinge RAF Station, which was the nearest station to enemy-occupied France in 1940.
The museum holds the most important collection of Battle of Britain artefacts on show in the country. Within the original buildings and hangers are aircraft, vehicles, weapons, flying equipment and relics recovered from over 600 Battle of Britain aircraft.
Duration 1 hour
The Museum provides a fascinating insight into the life for women serving their country during the Second World War.
The exhibition consists of personal letters from ex-WLA girls, authentic uniforms and factual information.