THE  DOVER WAR MEMORIAL  PROJECT

 

 

Civilian Service of
Remembrance and Thanksgiving - 2007

MORE CONTRIBUTORS
previous contributor - next contributor

Newspapers - The Dover Express

 headline - end of shelling, how the good news came

6th October 1944, page 3

The welcome news that the last of the German long-range guns had been captured was given to the people of Dover on Saturday, about 9am. by means of the loud speakers erected in the town and by mobile loud speakers. The news was released to Dover first. The message was as follows:- "The Mayor has received official information that all the long-range guns on the other side of the Channel have been now captured."

The general attitude of the town on receipt of the good news was one of real thankfulness. They received it calmly, as though for the moment not understanding all that it implied. Occasionally there were some cheers, but more often the people said, "Thank God" quietly to themselves. There were no Armistice-like celebrations. After a while flags began to appear from buildings, and they were added to during the day by those able to find some bunting - which was not at all easy in some places which had suffered from the bombardment. 

Camera men were busy in the town arranging and posing "shots", and they stayed for several days taking views of the various aspects of the town's life to make a picture. The whole thing was artificial however. The Mayor, in his robes, climbed to the top of the Town Hall tower on Sunday to be taken hoisting the flag with the town arms, and on Tuesday the Council was filmed in session at their monthly meeting.

Dover Bells Salute

While the loud speakers were announcing the capture of the cross-Channel guns on Saturday, the bells at St Mary's pealed out, and a special salute was given from each bell, comprising five slow and two quick notes, representing D-O-V-E-R, D for Deliverance, O for Obligation, V for Victory, E for Endurance, R for Restoration. In conclusion, the bells pealed out in Rounds and the Queen's and Whittington changes.

Church Services

It was arranged that at Buckland Church a service should be held at 7pm on the day the guns were reported captured, and about 70 people attended on Saturday evening. The Rector of Buckland (the Rev G J Browne RD) in his sermon made reference to the courage of the people and their feeling of thankfulness.

The Rev A S Cooper, the Vicar of Dover, in his sermon at St Mary's Church on Sunday morning said: "We all felt we must see this thing through. Somehow it was not you, or me, personally.  There was Dover - the spirit of Dover - to be taken into considerations. And not Dover alone, for somehow what happened here was something that mattered to England as a whole. This is the day we have longed for."

[There was a BBC broadcast - during it ...]

The Mayor of Dover said: It is a great relief to hear that the enemy's cross-Channel guns have been captured and that the threat of further bombardments of the town has been removed. Dover has had a rough time for the last four years, and in particular during the last month, when a very large number of shells have fallen on the town, which has suffered a lot of damage. The people of Dover have stood up to their ordeal magnificently and are full of gratitude and admiration for the gallant and successful manner in which the Canadians have captured the guns which have for so long been a menace to this part of the coast.

The Wires Hum

The news of Dover's liberation came in the following message from the Brigadier of the -th Canadian Brigade - "Greetings from the Brigade and may you enjoy your pint of beer and stroll on the front in peace from now on. We have all of Jerry's Big Berthas."

The mayor replied:- "Dover citizens send sincere thanks for your message of 22.45 hours yesterday just received, and most grateful appreciation of the gallantry and skill of you and your officers and men in capture of Jerry's Big Berthas. We shall not enjoy our beer and stroll on the Front to the full until you all can join us in it. We wish you God's speed and all further success. Mayor of Dover"

[There were many other messages, The report concludes:]     

Trophies for the Town

Another very fine gesture of the Canadian Army who captured the long range guns was to send to the Mayor the Nazi flag which flew over Cap Gris Nex and the Garrison Commander's sword. Accompanying these trophies was the following message from the Officer Commanding, Canadian HLI:- "To the Mayor of Dover:- We are sending these two items which we thought might be of interest to you. There were captured at Cap Gris Nez when the last gun was silenced, and belonged to the Garrison Commander. We are very pleased that you received our messages as it gave us quite a thrill, and we sincerely hope that before very long we may be able to join you in that beer that we mentioned."

How Many Shells

A German naval reporter was quoted by the German News Agency on Wednesday as saying, "In four years German cross-Channel guns altogether shot 3,700 tons of shells into what the English call "Hellfire Corner".

A Reuter story in the Daily Mail on Thursday said:- "Some of the giant guns at Cap Gris Nez fired from 40 to 50 rounds a day at the Dover coast, with intervals of half-an-hour after five consecutive rounds to allow the great pieces to cool. The three great cross-Channel batteries at Cap Gris Nez were named Wissant, Todt (after the German fortifications expert), and Grosser Kurfurst".

Shell and Bomb Figures

These are the official figures for Dover (they did not include service personnel)

  Shelling Bombs Other
Alerts  187 2,847  
Fell on Dover 2,226 464 Flying Bombs - 3, Parachute Mines - 3, Incendiaries - 100s
Killed 107 109  
Seriously injured 200 144  
Slightly injured 231 195  

*

The week before the Dover Express, sorely restricted by censorship, repeated a Daily Telegraph article.

[....]

Dover - symbolising Britain's resistance to the fury of a once cock-a-hoop Feuhrer - is awaiting its "liberation". It may be only a matter of days, perhaps hours, but there is no rejoicing yet.  Nor will there be until the townsfolk know for certain that the enemy gunners at Cap Gris Nez have been silenced for ever

Seldom, if at all, has a British town suffered so long and so much. For four weary years this "lock and key of the kingdom" as Matthew Paris called it, has been continuously under fire. Dive-bombers, flying-bombs, an infinity of shells - Dover has had them all; but everything has been borne with the same defiant pride and patience as immortalises London's own ordeal.

There is, however, a difference between London and Dover, for since the days of the Luftwaffe's first onslaught in 1940, Dover has known no surcease from German spite. It could not forget how close together the front lines ran at the Straits.

Yet Dover has carried on, reserving corporate life in all essentials, when hell itself was round about. Bakers have baked bread, barmaids have drawn beer

[....]

Every night at dusk little processions would make their way to the caves, for there at least they could sleep, though next morning as they went to their daily tasks the unannounced shell or the screaming bomb might fall.  

[....]

 with thanks to the Dover Express


previous contributor - next contributor



Copyright 2008-12 Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved