war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper


The "We Remember" Booklet 2006



John Cork as a three year old child. Courtesy John CorkMy school, St Bartholomew’s, was evacuated to Monmouthshire. One thing was missing – me. I was five then and I stayed in Dover throughout the war, as did my wife-to-be, Doreen. There were 800 children not evacuated. A national Children sheltering in Winchelsea Cave. Dover Museum collectonnewspaper called us the “Cave Kids”. Schools opened when they could, but as I often say, “Oh, What a Lovely War … I Had” because I was too young to go! 

Well over two thousands shells hit Dover. Four landed on houses just off Castle Street. I always remember going into one and seeing the elegant furniture and curtains. Once a junk shop was wrecked and my friend Freddy and I found a topi (tropical hat) and an African spear. The spear was taller than me. It was too big to handle and I couldn’t throw it so I stripped the iron head from the wooden shaft and made a nice large knife. We both wore the hat for a long time and when we got fed up with it we stripped it down and I always remember the yards of material we got from the binding. Another shell landed close to a sweet shop near Snargate Street. Freddy and I found a broken jar of sweets. Off we ran and when it was safe we tasted them. We hadn’t had sweets for some time. They were covered in dust but they were lovely!  

Snargate Street Dover, bombed. Dover Museum collectionThe saddest day of my young life was Wednesday 13 September 1944. My best friend was retuning from London, having spent a few days on holiday with his sister getting away from the shelling. The time was 16:03 and he had just stepped off the train at Dover Priory. At that moment a shell landed on the station. His sister was totally unharmed but he was blown to bits. His age was nine. His name was Frederick Ernest George Spinner but to me he was just “Freddy”, my best school mate. All my life not a week goes by but I remember him. It’s over sixty years now.  

This year I made contact with the Dover War Memorial Project. I was surprised to learn from Marilyn Stephenson-Knight that Freddy had in fact been buried, in St Mary’s cemetery. In June I visited Dover, and at last I stood by his grave.

 John Cork                                       

John Cork as a young child
Sheltering in Winchelsea Cave: in top bunk Vera Ealden, now Wright, sister of WWII casualty Walter Ealden (see "We Remember" 1)
Snargate Street, Dover, bombed

Copyright 2006 © Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved