THE  DOVER WAR MEMORIAL  PROJECT

 

 

Civilian Service of
Remembrance and Thanksgiving - 2007

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Newspapers - The Toronto Star

headline - Dover's four year ordeal is ended by Canadians

30th September 1944, page 3

Just over four years after the first German shell crashed into Dover from across the narrow straits, the people of Dover were told officially today that their ordeal by gunfire was ended. Shortly after 10am loudspeakers in the town gave this message, "The mayor has received official information that all the long-range guns on the other side of the channel have now been captured". The message was also broadcast in the caves where many people have been sheltering during the fierce bombardment of the last month.

Cheers echoed through the battered streets of this little capital of "hellfire corner". Jubilant citizens swarmed into the streets for an impromptu celebration marked by singing, shouting, and dancing, while flags appeared by hundred from windows of nearly all the town's houses. The Dover telephone exchange was swamped with hundreds of congratulatory calls from London and all over Britain.

Even baby carriages in the streets flew Union Jacks, while the older children - many of whom never were evacuated - had their own flag-waving parades.

The mayor of Dover announced today that a service of thanksgiving for delivery from German shelling will be held on the beach tomorrow. The Archbishop of Canterbury will conduct the service and distinguished men of the government and army will attend. It will not be a riotous carnival but a solemn service of thanks to God for deliverance from death and terror.

Doverites hope the leaders of the Canadian troops who wrought their deliverance can be present to receive the gratitude and honors of the community. Canadians are immensely popular in Dover, and Dover knows Canadians well. Our troops were encamped nearby while awaiting D-day and the town, what was left of it, was theirs. naturally they are more popular then ever now.

[....]

The frequent shelling of the town of Dover, destructive as it was, was merely a sideline motivated by sheer cussedness. Any military installations were too deeply hidden to be damaged and that the Calais Nazis must have known, for they seem to have spent few shells on military targets. They must have known, too, that even total destruction of the town of 45,000 would not weaken British morale.

[....]

The white cliffs of Dover, with their many caves, both natural and man-made, provide the world's safest shelters. The people of Dover, like the people of Malta, went underground.

Hit by 464 Bombs Also

Besides shells, 464 bombs, three flying bombs, three parachute mines, and hundreds of incendiaries have fallen on the town. the longest shelling alert lasted 13 1/4 hours last Tuesday, but from August 30 there has been little respite. It is estimate that a large percentage of the buildings in this city are damaged or in ruins. Dover became a frontline city in August 1940, and has known no surcease since. For many months every moonlight night brought dive bombers. Later the Germans added dark bombing to their repertoire of horror, throwing shells over in the daytime for good measure. The shells were worse than the bombs for the planes could be spotted and an alert sounded in time to take shelter, while a shell was likely to drop unheralded and unsuspected at any time.

With the arrival of the robot bomb, Dover had to take up London's cross fo fighter planes and ack-ack shot down over Dover flying bombs meant for London. Fortunately, most of them crashed in open country.

Angered by Petition Rumor.

It can't be said they bore the new cross uncomplainingly, for Doverites boast that more than any other Englishmen they exercise an Englishman's inalienable right to grumble, but nothing makes them see red quicker than to repeat the baseless whisper that they petitioned the ruling powers to cease shooting down on them the bombs meant for London

[ ...]

"You'd never get Dover people to do that," indignantly denies Editor F J Maher of the Dover Express. 

Lived there for Years

Most of those who had to remain spent their nights in the caves. Hundreds have no other place to go and on a visit to the caves I talked with men and women who have lived two and even more years in these densely crowded warrens, for warrens they are, not caves as we would use the word.

One I visited was a tunnel a quarter of a mile long, driven through a cliff from side to side. It was about six feet in width and the same height. Along one side, jammed as close together as they could be placed end to end, was a row of three-decker cots, many springless. Along the other side was a solid row of wooden benches. Between benches and beds there was scarcely room to walk when the benches were occupied. I got there at lunchtime and the benches were occupied by a packed row of humanity, men, women, and children, sitting elbow to elbow, munching bread and cheese. Only a rare one had a pot of tea.

"Between shellings we go to town and buy what food we need," explained Mrs Oliver Mutch. who says she has had no other home since August 1942. "People who still have homes cook their meals at home, but we who have lost ours must buy ready-cooked food and eat it cold."

with thanks to a great supporter in Canada, and to the Toronto Star,


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Copyright 2008 Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved