war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper

Living Memorials


at Remembrance SundayMemorials may come in many forms, from gates and altar rails to statues and crosses to bequests and foundations. Repeated Acts of Remembrance may also become Memorials - this time, living ones. Here are some of the ceremonies and rituals in Dover, commemorating those we lost in War Time.

Remembrance Sunday  

ready to lay wreaths

The Dover War Memorial Project wreath is laid - simon Chambers, Marilyn Stephenson-Knight, and Andy CooperEvery year at 11am on the Sunday nearest to 11th November, crowds gather at the Town Memorial outside Maison Dieu House to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in War, and to remember all those who continue to serve today.

the memorial with wreaths

Hymns, prayers, and a blessing  follow the  two minutes' silence before all the wreaths are laid.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them."

the crowd with many children too

When you go home, tell them of us and say, "For your tomorrow, we gave our today."


23rd April, St George's Day, is the anniversary of the Zeebrugge Raid. In 1918 the Navy attempted to block the canals from occupied officials, ready to lay wreathsBruges, to prevent the sortie of enemy vessels and remove the threat to allied shipping.

The Mayor rings the Zeebrugge bell at noon precisely, followed by the sounding of the "Last Post".   Right is Mayor Harold Carr, on the 50th anniversary of the Raid.

the Last Post, played by Bryan Walkerthe grave plotBefore the ringing of the bell, a service is held at St James' cemetery, at the Zeebrugge plot. This contains the graves of some of the two hundred who died in the raid.

Roger Keyes,  Baron Keyes of Zeebrugge and Dover, planner and commander of the raid, is also buried here. (headstone)


The Merchant Navy Service  
inside the stone hall

In Dover since 2001, the service is held as close as possible to Merchant Navy Day, 3rd September, the anniversary of the loss of the first Merchant Naval vessel in 1939, just hours after the Second World War was declared.

In the Stone Hall of the Town Hall, under the portrait of the Queen Mother, a Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, the Reverend David Ridley officiated in 2007. "We give thanks to God for the courage and good service of countless generations of sailors ... ", followed by a reading by Gwyn Prosser MP of the Seaman's Psalm, adapted by Captain Roberts from Psalm 23. "The Lord is my Pilot; I shall not drift ..."

Donald HunterIn 2005 Donald Hunter, MN, survivor of the Battle of the Atlantic and of the Dover Straits D-Day convoys, proposed a new memorial at Dover for Merchant Naval personnel. Winston Churchill called them the "Fourth Service" for on them depended our vital supplies  One in four lost their lives in the Second World War, and 17,000 in the Great War.

the town hall

merchant navy badge

Heavenly Father, as your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, called seafarers to be His first disciples, we pray for all those who go down to the sea in ships" 

illustrations: right, Dover Town Hall
above, MN cap badge, from uniform of Alfred Webb

The Merchant Navy War Memorial was unveiled and dedicated on 3 September 2008. A service and wreath-laying are held there each year after the service at the Town Hall.
The Marine Station (Cruise Terminal) Service

former marine stationJust before Remembrance Sunday, a memorial service is held at the former Marine Station, now the Cruise Terminal, at the Western Docks. On the former station is the memorial for the employees of the South Eastern piperand Chatham Railway,  including the Marine section, who lost their lives in the Great War

laying a wreath at the emmorial

"Oh God our help in ages past
Our hope for years to come
Be Thou our guide while troubles last
And our eternal home".

After hymns and prayers, the Last Post is sounded, and wreaths are laid at the memorial, accompanied by a lament from a piper.

three reverends2007 - Rev B Lewis, Chaplain,  South- eastern and the British Transport Police, Rev D Ridley, Chaplain, Port of Dover, and Rev R M Mitchell, Chaplain 2 (South East) Brigade

Torches of Remembrance  

This service is where the British Torch of Remembrance leaves our shores for Belgium. Since the 1920s, Belgian torches have been carried to the National  Memorial to the Unknown Soldier in Brussels. In this way ex-servicefolk remember their fallen comrades; and the torch symbolises the handing of the torch of freedom from parent to child.

British Torch bearer

Belgian ex-servicefolk living in other countries gradually joined in. In 1945 the torch was first carried from London. In 1966 a British Torch Delegation began.

The torches from Britain are lit at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, and carried, via Dover, to Ostend, and thence to Brussels. There the King relights the Eternal Flame at 11am on 11th November each year.

"Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies: Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee: In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me."

Mayor and British Torch delegate

Colonel Peter Trustram Eve, leader of The Remembrance Torch Delegation, and at one time Defence Attaché in Brussels,  with  The Right Worshipful The Mayor of Dover, Councillor Bob Mark-ham. Pictured  by the SECR memorial

The Unknown Warrior
standard bearers

The Marine Station was prominent in both world wars. One moving homecoming was that of the  Unknown Warrior in 1920.

After the service the piper, torch, and standard bearers lead off.  

by the plaue for the Unknown WarriorThe procession follows to the memorial plaque for the homecoming of the Unknown Warrior. There, near where he landed, a wreath is placed in his honour by the Chairman of the Dover Society - Derek Leach, OBE

The Christmas Tree  

It was a custom for many years for a Christmas tree to be placed in the Market Square in Dover. This tree was donated by Finn Christian Stumoen, who served with the 52nd Mine-laying flotilla in Dover during WWII. Mr Stumoen died on 4 February 2011, the last of his flotilla. He also presented the tree in the flotilla  garden on the corner of Masion Dieu and Pencester Roads, and helped design the flower bed in the form of a Norwegian flag on the seafront.

The Norwegian Flag  

The Norwegian flag  is flown each year on 17 May at the Norwegian mine-laying flotilla memorial garden on the corner of Pencester and Maison Dieu Roads

The Canadian Flag  

To commemorate the liberation by Canadian-led troops of  Dover from shelling on 26 September 1944, a Canadian flag, we understand, was raised on the anniversary. We believe this may have been in the Norwegian garden, at the corner of Maison Dieu Road and Pencester Road. If you can tell us more, please contact us

A gun is fired at Dover Castle at 11am on Armistice Day
Post Script - The Menin Gate and Dover  

The Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, is famed for its living memorial. Every night, at 8pm, crowds gather as the Last Post is sounded in memory of those who marched into the battlefields of the Salient and died in the mud.

the Flemish Caledoninan Pipes at Drums at Menin Gate

In November 2007, during our Service of Remembrance for Civilians, the Dover War Memorial Project wreath was laid on the grave of Gertrude Boorman, 13, who was killed  in 1916. On Remembrance Sunday, we laid the wreath at the Town Memorial in Dover.

laying the DWMP wreath at Menin Gate, Emily and Luke

In December 2007 we brought the wreath to the Menin Gate in Ypres. Here are commemorated over seventy Dovorians who have no known grave.  

From their home town, where their Menin Gatefamilies have for decades mourned and remembered their lost loved ones, we laid our Dover War Memorial tribute to those who could never return.


left: the Dover War Memorial Project wreath at the Menin Gate, laid by Emily, eldest daughter of Maggie S-K, and Luke Plimmer; right: the Menin Gate in the mist

pictures: Simon Chambers and Carole-Louise Piqué-Webb

Copyright 2008-17 © Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved