There was a terrific battle in the sky.grave

 

 

 

THE  DOVER WAR MEMORIAL  PROJECT

 

war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper
 

 

Memories

 

We've been fascinated by stories of war-time Dover and its people. Here are some of them. But there must be many more. What do you remember of Dover during the Wars? Do tell us!



WORLD WAR I

My mother is 94 now. She can remember sheltering in the cave during the first World War. She remembers the light from the oil lamps flickering on the walls.  LS

Oil Mill Caves, Dover

1915

courtesy Dover Museum

My father was killed in the Great War. To survive then my mother took in washing from Connaught Barracks. Mr Farrier went up there with his horse and cart, and I went with him to get the washing. Mrs Jackson was my mother's friend, and she helped with the washing. They had a big copper that they had to boil up in the yard to put the clothes in.

Uncle Bert lost his leg in the Great War. It got machine-gunned off. He was in the platoon, and the man carrying the Lewis gun said it was too heavy, so Uncle Bert carried it. Then the bullets from the cross fire killed everyone except Uncle Bert. That was because he was carrying the gun, and the bullets pinged off it. But he lost his leg.

He was shell-shocked by the war, and when they were bombed in the second World War Uncle Bert was eating his dinner. The peas on his fork went straight up in the air, and even without his leg he bolted straight across Liverpool Lawn and into the caves.  He passed out when he saw the damage afterwards, but no one in the family was hurt.  LB


Poem from the collection at Dover Museum, written by Miss Frances ("Fan") Boughton Spice
The author died in Dover in 1940

My father died in the Great War. My mother fainted when she was told. Her pension was very poor, and she had me and my brother to look after. Lady visitors came to help, and all they said was, "Put the children in a home and sell the house." Mother wouldn't let us go like that. She would cook, and darn and mend by candlelight, so she could get money, and her parents helped too. They kept us in shoe leather and gave us vegetables from the allotments. We stayed out of the soup kitchens and never went hungry because of that. IH

My dad was in the Marines for four years in the first war. He was a Corporal Saddler; he was a leatherworker. One time he was on a horse and it got shot and killed under him. His first son, my brother, died when he was 18 months, and I think my dad got some compassionate leave to come back and be with my mum. That was before I was born. LDR

My dad was born during an air raid! 25th November 1915.  NC

My dad was in both wars. In the Great War he was gassed, and his wife thought he had died. She took another man and had a daughter by him. Then my dad came back, and he had to lock the other man out of the house.

The civilians on the continent wanted to charge the soldiers for water when there was the relief. So the soldiers shot all their guns in the air, and frightened them all away, and then milked all their cows.

He made a banjo from all the bits he found in France, and used to sing songs he had made up. You should have heard the songs he sang about the enemy - they weren’t politically correct.  An5

Aftermath

It wasn't uncommon, when walking along the streets, to hear men coughing away in the front rooms. They had been gassed during the war. Military men who'd died would be given full military honours, and they'd be taken to the cemetery on a gun carriage. You often saw gun carriages going past. RJ


WORLD WAR II


Dover Residents' Documents, from the collection at Dover Museum

My mum was a Dover girl, but we were away from Dover when World War II started.  My dad was at sea, and she wanted to come home. Later the authorities asked how we'd got in without any papers,  and we said we hadn't seen any sentries. It was quite true. My brothers were 13 and 15 and they found out where all the sentries were stationed. We'd come in over the hills one dark night and avoided them all! EP

At Home

The beach was all barbed wire, and it was a restricted area. It was possible though to go swimming there if you were a resident, but if we girls went out in our swimming costumes all the soldiers would whistle and call out. So we didn't go VE

We boys used to go round the cliffs at St Margaret's, looking for things that had been washed up by the tide. One day I found a large bomb lying flat on its side; it was yellow and about four feet long. It was a job to lift it out of the water, so I asked my pal to go and get more help and a low wheel hand-cart. The bomb was too heavy to push up the road so we decided to lift it one step at a time up the cliff steps. There were about a thousand, and it took us ages.Four of us took it up, and the other lad went up the hill with the cart to wait for us. Then we took it home. On the way an army officer and soldiers stopped and asked where we had found the bomb, and said that as it had been under water it would be safe. I took it home to the bungalow where we lived and we lent it against my bedroom window. Mother was worried but I said it was safe, and lots of people came to look at it. Then my brother came home on leave from the navy, and immediately made us all leave the bungalow. He called the bomb and mine squad, and they took it out to sea and exploded it. The Naval Officer said that it was a delayed action bomb, and he was very surprised it hadn't exploded when we were bringing it home. FS

You could go up Plum Pudding on a Bren gun carrier – the soldiers would give you rides for 1d. (Plum Pudding is the local name for the hill, Stepping Down) ME

If you went down the Town Hall you could buy savings stamps for 6d. You could show them to the soldiers and they'd give you a ride on a Bren gun carrier, from the Town Hall, along Folkestone Road, up Plum Pudding, and back again. We used to show them the same stamp several times, so we got quite a few rides          JC

When we were at sea, they gave us dehydrated food. Meat, vegetables, and vitamin tablets to make sure we had all we needed. The first time we tried the dehydrated food, we didn't know what we were doing. We put some carrots in a pot and added water, and began cooking them; they swelled up and there was so much it overflowed out of the saucepan. But there wasn't much taste. You could tell it was meant to be different things, but everything tasted so bland. RJ 

There was an exhibition in the Town Hall of military equipment, and there was all army stuff there, and a display of food, what we’d call compo rations. With them were sweets. We didn’t see sweets during the war, so I nicked some. I was really worried afterwards, going home for my dinner, I kept thinking “What if I can’t eat my dinner, what will my mum say?”   JC

There was The Spot by Dodds Lane, and the man kept chickens and ducks up there. He had a caravan there too, and - this is really true! - in the caravan he grew tobacco ME

My mum had eight sisters and two brothers. During the war they all moved to be near their mother, so there was a whole group of them together and at one stage there were 50 of them from the same family all together in the same road. ME

The soldiers at St Margaret's erected a small pier on twelve foot stilts, about fifty feet long. At the end of this pier was a small hut, room for three men and a machine gun and searchlight facing out to sea. When the minesweepers cut loose the sea mines the mines sometimes drifted in with the tide. Day and night the soldiers watched out for the mines. They would fire and blow them up. You had to hit the horns to blow them up. If they were close to the shore they would shoot a hole in the mine so the water would get in and sink it, and then the Royal Navy mine and bomb quad would walk out and defuse them. Some of the mines were trick ones, with little blue round windows, and if one rubbed away these little windows to look in the sun or daylight would shine in and up would go the mine. I don't know if any other shores had this arrangement for mines, but St Margaret's was an ideal cove for them to float in. It makes you wonder how many mines were still floating the seas after the war. In 1949 I was on honeymoon at East Cliff, and a mine collided with one of the ships doing a day-trip from Dover to Dunkirk and blew up. Fortunately the ship didn't sink but I don't know how many people were hurt. FS

There were big batteries up by Shatterlocks and it was the New Zealanders who ran them. The batteries were to serve the search lights, and there were generators to charge them. I used to play in and out of the batteries, and the soldiers used to shout at me to "clear off!". There was a barrage balloon up at Shatterlocks too. ME

My mother used to do odd jobs for the soldiers. She would darn their socks and send them soup to heat up. I used to take these items to the soldiers. One Saturday afternoon in August the tide was out and all the soldiers and an officer were looking down the beach. There, coming up the beach, was a tall and giant penguin. Where had he come from? Had he been a sailor's pet on a ship that had been sunk? What a mystery! The soldiers caught him in a large net and put him in a spare hut and tried to feed him. The huts were where they slept when they were erecting concrete barriers and they were also on sentry duty.  On Sunday morning I went down with my mother as she wanted to see the penguin, but we were told that a man with a van had come from London Zoo to collect him. FS

Caves

I didn't go to school for years because of the War. We used to have to go into the caves. It was so boring. After the last shell had come over each time we had to wait for an hour before the all-clear. That was because of the way the guns worked, and you knew if nothing had happened for an hour then it would be safe. But if a shell came after 55 minutes then you'd be stuck for another hour. You could be in the caves for days. The people who were killed at the Tower Hamlets cave had gone to the entrance because they thought it was safe. It had been nearly an hour since the last shell. But then one came over.

The Salvation Army man brought round cups of tea. He went all through the raids and then he was killed at the Red Shield club. I thought he was ever so brave, going through all the raids like that.  DE

Salvation Army bombed

courtesy Dover Museum

When we were in the air raid shelters we would sing “Under the Chestnut Trees” and “This Old Man, He Played One”. If your mum said "move", you moved. Children were obedient then.  They had to be or they got killed in the air raids. EP


More Memories: -  In the Caves

In Noah's Ark Road there was a cave and it went all through to Coombe Valley Road and came out by the gasworks. We used to go in there, or in the Anderson shelter. Me, mum, and the dog. EK

Raids

My grandmother lived at Clarendon Street. Aircraft dropped a load of bombs on it, eleven in all. Numbers 135 and 139 were destroyed. My grandmother's house was 134, and she threw me down on the floor and laid on top of me. I was all right, but my grandmother got bomb splinters in her back. DC

I went out into the garden, and my dad said, “Come in!” I said, “No, it’s all right.” Then I looked up into the sky – pure blue it was – and I saw a tiny star. It was a Messerschmitt. An1

My friend and I were walking along Cambridge Road. We heard an airplane and turned round to see if it was theirs or ours. But at the same time we heard a rat a tat tat and we dived into a doorway. The next moment we saw the bullets hitting the ground, screaming up the street towards the monument.  It was one of theirs. It roared as it flew very close overhead. JC


Borough of Dover

Fire Prevention Service

Training

Please note that your attendance is requested for the purpose of receiving instruction as laid down in the Civil Defence Duties (Compulsory Enrolment) Order, 1942, and the Fire Prevention (Business Premises) (No 3) Order 1942

addressed to Mr Pearce, of the Invicta Inn, Snargate Street, requiring attendance on Tuesday December 9th 1942, at Peter Street

with thanks to Derek Yeomans

More Memories:- A Boy in World War II Dover

More Memories - Memories

My mum told me how a German plane went over the Danes. It shot at all the footballers, and then it went right up St Peter's Street, leaving a bullet trail along the middle of the road.  DA

 

My early memories of the war whilst in Dover was of being put in the indoor coal cupboard, my mother telling us to pray as the German planes machined gunned the roof tops.  DC2

My mother was walking across the fields in front of the Boys' Grammar with a friend, and a German plane went over head. It machine-gunned them, and they had to run for cover. They were very lucky because they weren't hit.   AH

My granddad was shocked after the first World War. When the sirens went off he was always first to bolt for the shelter. But he was getting a bit deaf, and one time the wind was in the wrong direction, and he didn't hear the siren, so didn't know about the raid until the first bang. He really ran then!

One time he was sheltering under the stairs, and was looking for something. He set his hair alight with the candle! NC


My mother was in the ARP, and she was on the telephones at the exchange near Peter Street. An explosion from one of the bombs or shells pushed her head right into the telephone exchange equipment. She was back at work after three days, when the exchange had been tidied up. RJc

My mum was unhappy living in Dover in 1940 because of the war. She decided to fill a pram up with family belonging and move from Brookfield Road to be with family members in Hougham, where she thought the family would be safe. But the following day a Doodlebug landed in the adjoining field. My dad was one of the survivors of HMS Jervis Bay, which was sunk on 5 November 1940 SH

I often used to go to bed in bed and wake up down in the cellar, where my mum had taken me because there was a raid on. They got either side of our house, well, the room where we lived, and one was about 25 yards away, but they didn't get us. That one blew in all the windows and after the war my mum got compensation for the curtains.  JC

My grandmother’s house in Bartholomew Street got bombed. My granddad had his leg broken. Clarendon got bombed too JC

I was out in the garden at Buckland, hanging up the washing. A shell came over, and then the siren went off. It was always that way round, because it took such a shot time for the shells to come over so there wasn't any time to sound the siren before.

I went in, and sheltered under the stairs while the raid was on. Afterwards, I went back out into the garden to see what had happened to my washing. There were two lumps of metal in the garden, shrapnel from one of the shells that had exploded nearby. I picked one up. Did I drop it quickly! It was absolutely red-hot.  PJ  

My parents ran a greengrocers' shop and I spent the entire war living in Dover. Mum worked in the shop and dad served customers from the back of his little Jowet van. That meant travelling around Dover whilst shells and bombs were dropping on a daily basis. They were so proud to have kept the little shop open every day during the war.  I can't tell you how much the residents of Dover cheered the sight of the Flying Fortresses heading towards Germany and when the dreaded German Gun batteries across the channel were finally silenced. As kids we were so excited when the 'Yanks' arrived and we knew they were going to help us beat Hitler. "Have you any gum, chum," was a popular kiddies' approach to the serviceman. BD

I can remember the shell that exploded on the hill behind 125 Clarendon Place. Christchurch school on Military Hill was demolished while we were in the caves during a raid. There was no school to go to, and so I went home afterwards and got a hiding from my Gran, because she thought I was playing truant! After that we all went to St Mary's school, but that's gone now as well. DY


I had gone over to Pineham, and I saw all the yellow-nosed Messerschmitts coming. They went over Canterbury way and then they turned and came back to fire on the anti-aircraft guns. They were shooting down the barrage balloons. They were clearing the way - they were followed by Junkers 87s, but they were met by the fighters who had come up because of the Messerschmitts. There was a terrific battle in the sky.

There is a big graveyard out there, out to sea. KS

Dad had a redundant Jowet van in the yard behind the shop which he kept for spares as such were unobtainable during the war. This van had a soft canvas roof which for me and my mates became our Ack-Ack- base, with broom handles poked up through the roof we shot down countless ME109's every day. BD

We were in London, at Camberwell, and I could see all the bombs coming down at the docks, and there was a glow in the sky with all the flames. We used to shelter in a place near our flats. There were concrete shelters thee with earth roofs. My dad used to bring the chair down and my mum would sit in it all night, and he would stand behind her to comfort her. My sister used to jump up in the air and scream when the bombs came. We knew if it was a long whistle and a short roar they’d be further away, but if it was a short whistle and a long roar they’d be close. It didn't matter how many nights we were awake, my dad never missed a day's work. He couldn't, or he wouldn't get paid.

The planes used to follow the river up, and drop their bombs, and one night we were in the shelter, and two shelters along got hit. That was at Dulwich. You could feel the ripple through the floor of our shelter from the shock, and then everything was deathly silence. It was completely still. Everyone in that shelter was killed. After that my mum and dad and sister wouldn't go down in the shelters, and eventually the bottom of our flats was reinforced with beams and concrete, and people sheltered there instead. But I could never settle after that and whenever there was a raid I used to walk the streets. I couldn't go back underground. My dad used to say to me, "You be careful, son". Until the worst was over I used to lie in the gutter. I was 15 then.

The King and Queen came out to visit after the shelter – that was in 1940 - and they were just in the street next to us, and word went round like wildfire and we all flocked round. I stood within a few feet of them. The Queen was all dolled up – she was the Queen! They were answering questions and commiserating, and asking how people were. It helped morale to know they had come, gave encouragement. Everyone was saying, “Innit it marvelous, the King and Queen!” The King was in uniform, and I saw he had pancake make-up on, to give him a bit of a tan. Everyone was wan in those days.

We eventually went out to Fetcham, where my uncle had a small place, and stayed there while he was away fighting. But there was a raid there too, the night after we got there, on the oil refinery at Leatherhead. The flames were 150 feet in the air. My mum said, "We've come all the way out here, and still they've come after us!" My mum couldn't settle and missed her own home, and so after a year, when the bombing had lessened, we came back to London. I was in the Home Guard, until I could join up. Everyone did what they could to help one another.  LDR

I was 13½  when war started, and I lived up Pioneer Road. I remember lying in bed when one of the adjacent houses was completely destroyed. I went to Barton Road School, and I was evacuated to Monmouthshire. But I came back to Dover in 1940, and I worked at Montague Burton, starting as an apprentice. One Sunday afternoon the shop was destroyed; the shell hit the electrical and gas mains and blew the shop to smithereens. The site is still derelict now. It's a good thing the shell wasn't the next day, or I wouldn't be talking to you now!  JW

My mum was out in an air raid. It was her lunch hour and she wanted to go home. She was cycling over the viaduct when a shell exploded right near her and her friend. They were blown off their bikes and covered with dust and rubble. A man came running over to them. His face was absolutely white with shock. He said, "I thought you'd had it!" He helped them get up and dust themselves down, and then they went home. My grandmother was absolutely furious. She called my mum every kind of fool under the sun for being out during a raid. But eventually my mum got shell-shocked. She went down in the caves and wouldn't come out again, and they had to send her meals down there to her, until she was called up for munitions work. MW

 

Dover Harbour being bombed

courtesy Dover Museum

The V1 came on 13 August 1944. When we first heard them and then the silence followed by a loud bang we wondered what they were. Then we saw them, and we knew that if we could hear them it was all right, but when they went silent we ran like hell for shelter as we knew they were coming down to explode. Lots of them passed over the town, and a great number were shot down by ack ack guns on the cliff tops or air craft.

Sometimes we saw an amazing sight. A fighter plane would come out of a steep dive to gain speed and then fly alongside the V1 flying bomb. then he would place his wing under or over the V1 wing and by tapping the V! wing would cause it to turn away. Sometimes it went back to France. It didn't happen often but when it did we let out a big cheer.  JC


"My mother, Gertrude Ellen Whitehead was in the WRNS, serving with HMS Penns on the Eastern Arm of Dover Harbour. I understand she cooked for the sailors belonging to the torpedo boats, and that the Duchess of Kent came to visit them..

She lived at Winchelsea Terrace, and I remember her telling me that she saw the first Doodlebug go over; next day the newspapers explained it was Hitler's rocket. Her sister-in-law, who lived in Lambton Road, Dover, was 6 years old when the war started, and remembers seeing a doodlebug explode in the sky. She also remembers a property in Randolph Road being hit, and losing the side of the house. she knew a family called Revell, who lived close by, and who lost their lives when a community shelter, the smaller of the two, was hit in the Union Road. RS 

right: Gertrude Whitehead, coming out of an Anderson shelter at 4 Winchelsea Terrace
left: two of her friends, Win and Mabel

 

 

They were wonderful, the women. You don't hear much about their role, but they kept the country going, while the men were away. It was total war; everyone was involved. They did all the jobs, and looked after the children too, and they were often hungry. We couldn't have done it without them. Then, when the men came back, they told the women they were too silly to do the work! RJ

I recall one lunchtime, which I think may well have been Christmas as the shelter was crowded with family. The siren had sounded and we had decamped to the Anderson shelter. As my mother brought the freshly-cooked rabbit and vegs to the shelter steps, she suddenly stopped, and said, 'What's that funny noise?'. The rest of us knew exactly what it was, but my mother could have many senior moments. It was a whistle, which ended in a very loud and nearby CRUMP! Lunch went flying - Over her! Into the shelter! On the shelter! And into the next garden! I presume that we went hungry. But I do recall the gales of eventual laughter. It was always like that at G'ma's home. Poorer than Church mice, but always happy.   BM


Four shells landed on houses in Eastbrook Place just off Castle Street. The houses were still standing but badly damaged. I always remember seeing the elegant furniture and curtains.  All badly damaged houses were eventually pulled down and the contents just put onto lorries and taken to the tip up St Radigunds. As the lorry went up the hill we would jump on the back, and rummage through the contents, and then as the lorry got to the top we would jump off again. JC

I used to save the money I earnt as a delivery boy and go into Curry's in the town to buy Meccano. I was talking to the man in the shop, and there were four giant explosions. He dragged me under the counter. The last explosion blew in the window; there was glass in the shop and in the road and the window display was scattered in the road. Fire engines and ambulances were rushing past. When I tried to go back to the bus station there were craters in the road and water coming out of the ground. I will always remember there was part of a Lipton's sign that had been blown off at the bottom of one crater. I was looking and a policeman came along and said, "Come on, you don't want to look at this." There were no buses running. I had to walk home to St Margaret's, all the while not knowing if another shell would come.  It was the day the East Kent garage was hit. If I hadn't stayed talking to the man in the shop I would have been there. I was evacuated just after that, to Mayfield in Sussex, and was away eight months. My family went to Tonbridge afterwards. FS

I was there in the shelter in the garden when the Paynes were killed by shell. They had been sheltering in the Morrison when the house was hit. The ground all moved. ME

They had the sirens; if there was shelling there were two sirens, and if there was an air raid it was one siren. We went to the pictures, to the Plaza.  My mum always said that if there was a raid I was to come home. You wouldn't always hear it, in there, so they used to put it up on the screen, "Shelling in Progress". We had to come out, and so we went back home up the steps by the Priory Station. We stood there and watched the shelling. I saw St James go up in smoke and flames, and all go down into rubble. EK

 

When we heard the syreen (this is the way it was pronounced) we would go up onto the allotments behind. From there we could see the flash, and we'd wait to see where the shell landed. If it landed in Folkestone we would stay out, as the guns took a long time to turn so we knew we wouldn’t get shelled that day. But if it landed on Dover we'd go into shelter as quick as that! ME

The shell landed between Oswald Road and London Road, and the back of the house was blown out. All I can remember happening was a great bang, and I woke up sixteen hours later in my uncle's house. BB

There was a field, up beyond Aycliffe, and all the children used to go up there and sit on the fence and watch the planes fighting. They'd be cheering and calling, encouraging them on, and if one of ours shot down one of theirs they'd do a huge cheer NC


The seafront was all blocked off, with wire along it. There were imitation landing barges there. The Germans thought the landing in France would come from there, and they came over and photographed them. But it was all just a decoy.  EK


They had tarpaulins over the barges, and they were all painted to look like craft. We saw a German plane come over, looking. It dropped some bombs and they went straight through the canvas. The canvas blew up in the air and then settled down again. The gunners on the cliffs shot the plane down, and it ended in the sea, outside the eastern arm.  JC


Response from correspondent:
I can confirm that the canvas invasion barges at Dover in 1944 were decoys, to fool the Germans into believing the invasion would take place at the Pas-de-Calais. There were also blow-up rubber tanks and planes in many fields in Kent and Sussex for the same purpose. Also fake radio messages were 'leaked' onto wavelengths the Germans monitored. Hitler refused to send some Panzer Divisions away from the Pas-de-Calais, so the scheme must have worked.  BB

 

Dover Express 4 November 1949
For two months the Dover Sea Front and Docks had been "restricted areas" whither none could go without a pass. The barricades completely shut off the area from the view of the ordinary man in the street, and behind this screen there was intense activity, particularly during the hours of darkness. The Harbour was being filled with realistic looking "tank landing craft" which, in fact, were nothing more than painted cloth stretched over a framework and floated on barrels. From a distance it looked a formidable array of craft, and besides leading the enemy to think that Dover was being used as an invasion base it must have puzzled him how the vessels got there, for as each day dawned it was seen that more had "arrived" during the night. These craft were, in fact, made mostly at night and launched into the harbour from an apron opposite the Granville Gardens.

Further note
Juan Pujol was a double agent, known as Garbo to the British and Arabel to the Germans. He had convinced the Germans that he had been able to recruit some 27 agents. In fact, they were all fictitious. Subsequently, three of his fictitious agents "reported" that there was an Allied army gathering in south east England, ready to invade at Calais. This ensured that the 12 German armoured divisions in the Pas-de-Calais would remain there, easing the Allied task on the Normandy beaches. The dummy landing barges in Dover were part of this deception.

Another of Garbo's fictitious agents "reported" that the Allies were grouping in Scotland to invade Norway. This ensured German troops in Denmark and Norway did not move south to reinforce troops battling the Allies in Normandy. From information displayed at Bletchley Park, home of the WWII codebreakers.

 

Lord Haw-haw during a wartime propaganda broadcast announced that the German airforce had inflicted severe damage on a number of British naval ports, including “Hougham Harbour”. So when I was a child the small stagnant pond at Hougham village was known as Hougham Harbour! JB

 

left: "Hougham Harbour", Broadsole Lane, West Hougham

My most vivid memory is of the shell that exploded at the entrance to the Winchelsea shelters. I was just inside the door and there was a "whooompf!" I went out and there was the biggest piece of shrapnel there I'd seen. It had a brown copper band round it, which I know now was the driving band for the shell, and it was red hot. But a big man came along and said, "I'll have that" and took it off me. DY

My only claim to fame was being in Dover when, apparently, the last shell arrived from Calais – It landed quite close, and the heaving of the floor of the Anderson shelter threw me out of bed! Having been hiding from the war in Wales it was all very exciting. I used to return home with my pockets full of shrapnel which we lads used to race for when we heard the clinking noise as it fell from the skies. BM

Past where Buckland Hospital is is the area where they put all the things from the bombed houses. We used to see the lorries going up there, and they would take all the stuff, and they used to go slowly up the hill. So we would hop on the back and see what we could find, and I found some American stripes and sewed them on my jacket.    JC

Casualties

I was sitting in the class room when there was a sudden loud bang, and shortly after we heard the sound of running feet then shouting. The next class was emptied of children, then we heard moaning. Our teacher told us to remain seated and went next door. A short period of time went by and our curiosity got the better of us. We put our chairs against the wood glass partition and peered into the classroom next door.

What I saw I shall never forget:- on the floor lay two children, their faces covered in blood.  The hand of the child nearest to us was hanging onto his arm by shreds. He lost his hand and his sight. The other lad escaped serious injury. They had found a butterfly bomb and were attempting to take it apart. (more) JC


On 2nd Sept, about 2 o clock, the Germans were lobbing shells all the time. that was because the Canadians were advancing on them. We were in the shelter, and it was pitch black. There was an enormous bang. We lived at 14 Lowther, and it took out the backs of about eleven houses. Number 17 was destroyed, that was where Sheila Hare lived. She was killed and her mum badly injured. Mrs Ricketts and her daughter were safe in the shelter, but the Elkins and the Moats had to go to new accommodation. Our roof was taken off. There was an emergency mobile repair service. They'd come and put a tarpaulin over to keep the rain out, and there was a clear plastic to put over the windows when they were all blown out. EK

 

I was walking up near Randolph Road after a raid, and I saw a dead baby in the garden.  CD

At Pencester Gardens there was a noticeboard, and they used to pin up there the names of the people who had been hurt or killed in the latest air raid or shelling attack. AW


When I as at sea we were hit by a bomb. I was running to my station, and I saw a sailor all covered in white; he was like a snowman. He was saying, "Help me! Help me!" I thought he was messing about, so I said, "Don't be daft!" and went on as I had to be at my station. It was only the next day, when I asked after him, that I learnt he had died. He had been scalded by the super-heated steam from the boilers and covered with the white soot from the funnel when the bomb had hit us. RJ

I remember when the Alert was lost. My father went out deep sea, with the tugs, to look for survivors. He came in, about half past six or seven - it was dark - saying they were going to go out again the next morning.  FL

I remember there was a German pilot, brought into the police station round the back of the town hall. There were some farmers with pitchforks, and along he came with his hands up. There were about four of us boys there – we stuck our fingers under our noses, like Hitler’s moustache, and shouted, “Adolf! Adolf!” at him. He said he'd got our names and would come back to get us! JC

Dunkirk

My mother lived up at Archcliffe, and when it was Dunkirk the French were burning all the factories so the enemy couldn't get them. She sat up there with her brother and could see across the Channel all the burning. NC

I used to sit up on the cliff by the Drop Redoubt. I had a telescope and I used to look at the coast of France. Dunkirk was to the left, and I could see fires and explosions. I saw the ships coming across. My father  helped the wounded soldiers off the boats.  JL

There was a lot of action around the time of Dunkirk. We'd spend nights in the caves; that was Barwick's cave, in Snargate Street. Once I saw an enemy bomber, just 200 feet overhead. It thundered over. It was so low because it was trying to escape the gunfire, the barrage of POM POM from the anti-aircraft guns. We'd hear shrapnel clattering on the roofs; the man opposite had his foot severed by falling shrapnel. I saw a mother dragging her child along to safety, the gas mask clattering and bouncing on the road as she ran. An air raid warden went to help her. They were very kind. It was very frightening though, and I wished I had a gun to shoot back at these people who were trying to hurt us. That's the way you feel, when you are very frightened.    JL

There was a hostel for the nurses at Mangers Lane, and on the roof was painted a red cross so that the bombers that flew over would see it was a hospital and not bomb it.

When the soldiers came back from Dunkirk there were so many that needed treatment they were all on stretchers along the road outside the hostel ME

Evacuation


Dover children in Wales

According to the Book "Children into Exile" by Peter Hayward, these are the areas to which the Dover Schools went
Blackwood,
Monmouthshire, (Bedwelty Urban District Council) – Astor Avenue,  St Martin’s Boys and Girls, St Barthlomew’s Boys, Girls, and Infants, and River Mixed
Ebbw Vale Urban District – County School for Boys, St Paul’s RC
Caerleon
Urban District – County School for Girls
Cwmbran
Urban District – Christchurch Boys and Infants, Holy Trinity Boys and Girls, Pier Infants
Blaenavon
Urban District – St Mary’s Boys, Girls, and Infants, St James’ Girls
Severn Tunnel Junction (Chepstow Rural District) – Buckland Girls
Risca
Urban District – Buckland Infants
Ynnysddu
and Pontllanfraith with Wyllie (Mynyddislwyn Urban District) – Barton Road Boys, Girls, and Infants, Charlton Boys and Girls

I was four when we were evacuated, and my brother, who was 9, was put in a different valley from me. I remember standing on Dover Priory station with a gas mask in its cardboard box around my neck, a label with my name and  address on attached to my coat, standing amongst hundreds of children and crying parents. DC2

You didn't get much schooling in Dover during the War because the warnings always went off. You could see the flash across the channel and know you had a minute or so before the shell came over. I used to go up through the caves to school at Christchurch. One time I found an incendiary bomb in the ground and took it into the classroom to show everyone. They all scattered!

I had been evacuated first of all, to Cwmbran, but my mum brought me home again because I was suffering from malnutrition. The man of the family worked in a biscuit factory, and I'd have to pinch the broken biscuits and the pies as well, because I was starved. If you asked the Mrs for another slice of bread she'd cut it for you - but she'd stare at you the whole time while she was doing it. We didn't get much schooling there either, just sat and talked. RE

I had a bad time when I was evacuated. I was only 9, and wasn't welcome in the family where I stayed. They made me work; I had to look after the baby whenever a new one was born, and I had to shovel the cows' manure too. They took my ration and anything I was sent. My jellies I had to cut up and roll in sugar, and then the family sold them as sweets. By the time I returned home I was nearly grown up. I never really had a childhood, and I never really knew my own family.  MP


When I was evacuated I had nothing but a little brown bag with string handles to carry my bits of clothes in, no gas mask or anything else like that. It took a long time to get there because we went up to London and then changed trains, and all the way we could see wounded soldiers from Dunkirk being looked after, and ladies from the Voluntary Service bringing them cups of tea. There were train loads of them.

When we got there, we had to march through the streets, and it was dark. There was a babble of voices we didn't quite understand, and as we went along, people chose who they were going to take home with them. Brothers and sisters couldn't go together as girls and boys had to be separated. We didn't get much schooling to start with because the schools were overcrowded, so we swapped around with the Welsh children, one week all mornings, the next all afternoons. Later more evacuees came from London too.

I went to a family that was very respectable, and strict too, but I was well looked-after. The daughter of the family was like a mother and a sister to me; she had an evacuee too, from London. I helped the family a lot round the house and the allotment when I wasn't at school. By the time it came to my National Service when I was old enough, I was used to all the work and the discipline, so it wasn't a shock for me at all. DT

I was evacuated to South Wales. I was five and I thought I was going on holiday. But I realised in the evening when we were all in a playground waiting to be chosen. We were the last chosen, my brother and I - I think people didn't want two boys.

My brother was happy where he was billeted. He was with an elderly couple and they treated him like a son.  I went to a mining family, and they had four or five kids already. They used to pinch the things my mum sent, and I had to help with all the chores. I can remember carrying the paraffin home and shifting it from hand to hand, changing it finger to finger as it was so heavy.

I used to go with the other boys and watch all the miners' they used to sit in big circles gambling – we used to spy on them.

My mother eventually came and got a flat out there and we could stay with her. An2

I wasn't very old when I was evacuated, but I can remember I was told off when it was my birthday. I invited all the local children round. My foster mother was very cross; she said, "How am I going to feed all of them?" An3

My sisters were younger, just 9 and 5, and it wasn't nice for them and my little sister was very upset. I couldn't stay with them because I was a boy. But Wales for me was a great adventure. I loved it and was made very welcome. The daughter of the family was like a big sister to me.

It took us 14 hours to get to Wales, and we had to keep stopping to let the trains with soldiers through. When we got there it was dark, and we heard voices that we didn't always quite understand, and warm hands reached out from the dark   and took ours, and we went home with them.   JL


We in Wales took in two evacuees, one for just a couple of days because he had nowhere else to go, and another one we kept for two years. We looked after him and he was included with the family; he got presents at Christmas the same as we did.  He was older than me; I was five. RG

During the second World War we went to Derbyshire to escape the shelling. We didn't like it; the people we stayed with were mean, and we lived on biscuits. I had to buy my sons biscuits to supplement the food or we'd have starved. My older boy wouldn't go to school there. We only stayed six weeks and then we came back to Dover. We used to go in the caves when there was shelling.

We lived at 171 Clarendon Street then. Anyone who was on leave could come to stay with us. We would sleep in the armchairs, so the soldiers could have a good night's rest in bed.   LB

I stayed with my Gran in Dover, and my mum worked in London. She was riveter in an aircraft factory. I didn't want to be evacuated so I ran away with the McGuire brothers. They were great friends, Alan and Lenny. We hid for three or four days in the hills. As young boys we knew the Western Heights and we got into the Heights, there was an underground barracks and two disused little rooms.  That's where we stayed, and there was a  grocer, Mr Bailey, at the end of the street. He had an open shed full of goodies, and that's how we managed. When I went back my Gran gave me a good hiding, and then she gave me a big cuddle, and said, "You stay here with me." DY

*Note: Ernie McGuire, brother to Alan and Lenny, was killed by a shell at Folkestone Road on 12th September 1944

In December 1943, the Dover Express reported that children were steadily returning from evacuation, and that in Dover there were 2156 children in schools (compulsory full-time education had resumed on 31 August 1942), and only 340 in South Wales. Despite objections by the town council, six schools were re-opened in October 1941 and 600 children between the ages of eight and fourteen received 90 minutes instruction per day.

Aftermath

We had to leave Dover during the war, and the soldiers were billeted in our house. We still had to pay for it, though. When we came back the mess was terrible. They had thrown all their opened cans down into the cellar, even some with food still in, and it was crawling with rats. It took us a long time to get the house straight and clean again. EH

The German PoWs worked on laying the sewer pipes all down Glenfield Road, to serve the prefabs. They would make wooden toys and exchange them for a couple of cigarettes. We saw the prefabs arriving on lorries and being taken up there, all flat. ME

The prefabs weren't built until 1946. I could kneel up on the window sill and see my dad playing football at Crabble. You can't now - the trees have all grown up.  NC

We used to play on the bomb sites, before the Belgians came to rebuild houses. The Belgians all wore clogs. MK

We used to play on all the old bomb sites. Burlington Hotel, part of that was left standing, and you could go up the stairs. They were fixed to the wall, but the other side was open air. We went up right to the roof to play. Then a policeman spotted us and came up after us. He was a special, and lived down Castle Street. He told us to get down. He went down the stairs dead slow, hanging on, but we were bounding down like a barrel of monkeys.

There was the old swimming pool too, and that used to fill up every time the tide came in. We’d get in there and play. We didn’t go in the water – it was all muddy, and there were bits of glass and who knows what else, and crabs, but we got some doors and made floats out of them, and floated about in there. There was a sluice, it used to be filled that way, all filtered, and I suppose someone had left the sluice open or it got damaged in the war.

Old St James church, that got hit, and we used to play around there. We'd go up the tower - there were bits of wood hanging off, and a bell. One day a cat got stuck up the tower. That was the first time I did a 999 call, and the fire brigade came out. There must have been about twenty of them. They got the ladder up and then the cat got halfway down the tower, slipped through a slit in the wall, and disappeared across the roofs.. We never let on it was us who made the call.

There was the boat beached. It had shells on it, no heads but all the cordite, and they were gradually unloading them onto the shore there. When the sentry nipped off for a pint, we nipped in and pinched the shells, getting the cordite out. We lit some, in a milk bottle, and it went up. Then we thought we’d put several bits in a bottle and and we put it behind a wall, about  two to three feet high, and we lit them and ran. It went woooof! The wall just toppled. We didn’t do it again after that - too dangerous! JC

I became an apprentice at the Post Office at Dollis Hill. If you were an apprentice you were a kind of non-person. You didn't exist and were allowed to wander anywhere. You were supposed to be learning, you see. But there was one place no one was allowed to go. That was where Tommy Flowers was working. He was "Mr Flowers" to me, of course. He was a right "GorblimeyAda". It was only a long time afterwards I found out he'd been working on Colossus. He put a lot of his own money into that. EL

I was an engineer. Where I worked, every now and then my boss's boss would get a 'phone call in his office. Then he would put the 'phone down and walk off down the street, and he would ring a number from a public 'phone box. It was all in case people were listening in. We didn't always know what we were working on. One time I worked a fortnight on centrifuges. No one said why and we never thought any more of it. We learnt much later that these were for the atom bomb.  I'm not under the Act any more, so I can say this. GS

We came all the way through with rationing, and then after the war the weather was against us. The rain killed all the wheat, so we had bread units. The bread went on ration and you used to have to take your book to the bread shop and he'd tear the coupons out. Then the next winter - that was a terrible winter. 1947. You couldn't get the coal out. It was frozen solid. All the railways stopped. I passed the 11-plus and my dad got me a bike. I had to ride three miles to school each day. My bike was a Raleigh, and I went all through that. I never came off. MNC

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