morning, and welcome to the Dover War Memorial Project Service
of Remembrance and Thanksgiving.
The Dover War Memorial Project remembers with love, honour, and
respect, all Dovorians who fell in the two world wars. There are
over 2,000 people commemorated on our internet Virtual Memorial.
This service for Civilians was inspired by a friendship beyond
the grave - that of John Cork for his school hood friend, little
Freddie Spinner. Freddie was killed in September 1944. That was
just a couple of weeks before the Canadian First Army captured
the guns on the Calais coast, and silenced them forever.
On our town memorial there are nearly 800 names. Some of them
are Canadian. But none of them is a civilian. Civilians are a
forgotten service - the soldiers of the Home Front.
By the last year of the Great War over five million women were
working in munitions factories, on the land, and even in
engineering. Men too old for active service guarded the roads,
railways, and ports. Boy Scouts patrolled telegraph lines, ran
messages, and helped with the horses. In Dover they were on duty
at the Castle and the Grand Shaft. In August 1914 one Scout, Bob
Ward, became the second Dovorian to die on service. He was 13.
Over a year before the Second World War began, ideas of the Home
Front were regenerated. By June 1940 there were a million and a
half volunteers in the Home Guard. Another million and a half
were RP wardens, a million older ladies joined the Voluntary
Service. Over four million people were working in munitions
along. And who can forget the housewife at the Kitchen Front,
with its Ration Books, Dig for Victory, and Make-Do-and-Mend?
Dover was the frontline town in both World Wars. Bombarded and
battered we still saw thousands of refugees arrive. We saw our
children leave, and our troops depart and return - in the
evacuation of Dunkirk, over four and a half thousand were
treated at our hospital. Very many here will remember the work
of civilian Dr Gertrude Toland then. (To her I too am grateful,
for without her I could not be here today.)
With its white cliffs Dover was an icon of home and the free
world. Our safety and our futures - and our presence here today-
depended on those brave people who went out and fought. But it
depended too on those who, like our Dovorian civilians, stood
firm at home.
Let us never forget all those we lost in the two world wars, nor
our debt to all those who served, and who continue to serve
today. We remember, and we give thanks.
photo: Simon Chambers
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