TORONTO STAR, 25 February 1941
were recently sent this front page cutting from Canada of The
Toronto Star. Written by M H Halton, it provides an interesting
perspective of Dovorians under bombardment and threat of
"Listen to Voice
of Dover And Buy War Savings"
"I built new
house on ruins of old", says Dover man defiantly.
Talk Only of How
Terrible It Will Be for Nazis, Halton Finds.
"We Are Waiting"
Dover, Feb 25 -
(CP) - German long-range guns on the French coast opened up on
the Dover area today. They fired a small number of shells which
caused neither casualties nor noteworthy damage. The strait was
misty and the sea calm.
"Moat" by M H Halton
London, Feb 25 -
It's a moving and exciting experience to stand once more on the
white cliffs of Dover and peer across that 21-mile stretch of
water which is a moat between civilisation and the dark. To
stand there and see things I saw is to wonder how enemy hordes
ever will dare to come.
On a clear day
you can stand on this white bastion which England calls
Shakespeare Cliff and see the coast of France. When I was there,
the coast of France was hidden by scurrying clouds. There were
gulls crying and white horses running down the dark blue
channel, and 'twas hard to believe that here soon may be fought
the most decisive battle the world's ever seen. 'Twas hard to
believe that just a few miles away around gay Calais where one
went so often in happier days Attila's hordes were preparing
their desperate enterprise, but on a wall in Dover is a poster
with Churchill's words. "We are waiting for them; so are the
Carries On As
The last time I
was there Dover was untouched by war, but that entire 21 miles
of frontier water was covered with craft of every description
bringing the British army home from Dunkirk. This time I found
the old town carrying on as usual, though it's in the very front
line of our battle.
unbelievable to see how Dover's carrying on. For six months it's
heard the enemy's winged squadrons drone over. On and off for
six months it's been shelled by the enemy's big guns. I expected
there hardly would be any Dover left.
I found life
going on as usual. I talked to women shopping in the market
place, to workers on streets, to business men and civic
officials. "Where's the damage done by German guns?" I asked,
and this question made them laugh.
"Most of their
shells fall in open country or in the sea," they explained. "We
hope our own big guns do more damage than theirs."
Winnie and Pooh,
as two of our big guns are called, are wonderful engines which
throw shells across the narrow waters. There's reason to believe
they're more accurate than Hitler's Big Berthas. At any rate
nobody in Dover worries about shells, and they seem to worry
little about bombs.
At night when I
was there we heard German squadrons humming over, but we also
heard British squadrons going the other way - sounds in the
night, that's all - sinister sounds and comforting sounds. And
in the daytime we saw streaks of vapor in the sky high and far
away and learned later a roving German bomber had been shot
No bombs fell,
but next night I was with friends in a tiny country village.
Late at night we stood in a lane listening to German planes
passing right overhead, but so high they were invisible against
the star-decked sky. For a few minutes there was no sound in the
world but that of droning bombers - and then an explosion which
made the earth tremble and windows shake. A heavy bomb had
fallen three miles away. next day we learned "A few people
injured, several houses damage, and two sheep killed in a
village in one of the home counties".
talk about how terrible the German attack will be when and if it
comes, but in Dover people talk about how terrible it will be
for the Germans. Said an old sea captain who once hunted whales
and now runs a deadly little ship for the navy: "There's our
army which is bigger and better than anything Jerry can get
ashore; there's our air force which is far stronger now than
last September; but here's something more important which people
seem to forget - there's our navy."
When you peer
into the channel mists and think of the gauntlet the enemy will
have to run before he even touches Shakespeare Cliff you get new
ideas about invasion prospects. Majority opinion in both the
navy and air force seems to think the Germans won't attempt an
invasion. The army seems to think they will.
"But maybe it's
only wishful thinking," laughed a British officer. "It will be
too bad if they don't come." Most men of Kent feel that way, and
it's Kent which would feel the worst shock of invasion.
For good reasons
one can't describe how the island's coasts are manned and
fortified nor the hidden strong point with their immense
potentials of firepower, but when thinking of Britain's
preparations you have to think not only of coast defences whose
job it will be to fight to the last man, but also of the
wonderful mobile and armored divisions ready to strike swiftly
at any point where the enemy might attain dangerous
Hard as Supermen
You must think
also of hand-picked units trained to pass days without food or
sleep and hardened into supermen preparing meticulously for
enterprises which one day will astonish friend and foe. Think
also of Dover carrying on and listen to Dover's voice.
"My cottage was
destroyed by the blast from a German bomb last September," said
a tobacconist, "and friends in Manchester wanted me to evacuate,
but I fixed up a new house in the same place and I'm here for
raids last autumn," said an air raid warden, "I had more people
than I could handle coming out into the danger and volunteering
help. I know doezens of people, including two little old women,
who ought to have the Victoria Cross."
had so much fun since the Spanish armada was beaten," said a
"I've never seen
such goings on," said a charwoman, angrily shaking her fist at
And in old Lord
Warden hotel people sat chatting as gaily as if Hitler were only
a memory like that other adventurer, Bonaparte, who once
gathered his barges at Boulogne. Such is the situation on