© Battle of Britain Memorial

Wartime History Itinerary

© English heritage

Wartime History Itinerary

With it’s close proximity to France, White Cliffs Country has seen much action during both World Wars. 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.

From 1914-1918 Dover became one of the most important military centres in Britain. Vast amounts of men crossed from Dover to France. The town became known as ‘Fortress Dover’ as it was regularly shelled from warships and bombing from aeroplanes and zeppelins, forcing residents to shelter in caves and dug outs.

Along its iconic white cliffs are many reminders of its role and a tour of some of its most important sites will reveal how this coastal district came in to its own during the Second World War. The Battle of Britain Memorial commemorates the airmen who risked it all to protect their nation and gives visitors a chance to discover what life was like for them in its visitor centre. After taking in the views from the top of the cliffs, visitors can explore within them on a tour of secret wartime tunnels at Dover Castle from where one of the most daring military rescues was planned and coordinated.

Getting around

Why not leave the car at home – the district is well served by regular bus and train services connecting towns and villages across White Cliffs Country.

Stagecoach

South Eastern

Have a look at some inspiration for exploring wartime history in White Cliffs Country. Why not mix and match to create your own itinerary.

  • Dover Castle

    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.

    Allow a minimum of 3 hours to visit

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  • Battle of Britain Memorial

    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.

    Allow a minimum of 1 hour

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  • Kent Battle of Britain Museum

    The museum is on the site of the former Hawkinge RAF Station, which was the nearest station to enemy-occupied France and just ten minutes' flying time away from Luftwaffe fighter airfields in Pas-de-Calais 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.

    Allow an hour

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  • The Women's Land Army Museum

    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.

    Allow an hour

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  • White Cliffs of Dover

    The White Cliffs of Dover – ever famous in Vera Lynn’s iconic wartime song, has amazing walks and can conjure up some imagination of how this famous landmark played its part in WW2.

    From the mock invasion of Operation Fortitude which was launched from Dover at midnight on 5th June 1944, when motor launches carried balloons and reflectors across the Channel to create the impression of a huge convoy, through to Operation Overlord, which delivered 185,000 troops to the D-Day landings on the 5th June; this special and iconic landmark has seen much action.

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  • Dover Museum

    Dover Museum, the district's largest and most varied museum, has a range of fascinating objects, models and original pictures showing the history and archaeology of Dover within its four gallery spaces.

    Head to the History Gallery and find out more about Dover’s epic wartime, where a WW2 display includes a 1,000kg German bomb, replica VI, posters, images and a video presentation on the evacuation of Dunkirk.

    Allow an hour

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