To see where Roger's mom worked during the war.
27.07.2011 - 28.06.2011 21 °C
Last night we decided to head towards the white cliffs of Dover and found there is a wonderful series of paths all along our way. We could see up to the castle, the entire port and up to the north. We had to turn back so we didn't get caught on the cliffs in the dark. We didn't bring the camera so we will come back and make sure we have time to meander a little further.
We sleep well and are serenaded by the sea gulls starting about 4:30 in the morning. A bit more sleep and time to get ready for our day. Robert is having our breakfast ready at 8 and when we come down our juice is poured, our yogurt with fresh fruit with a sprinkling of granola is in our place and the tea and toast follows shortly one other table is set and a German couple arrive at 8:30, they have opted for a cooked breakfast.
We use the GPS to find the train station and pick up our tickets for tomorrow. Then find our way up to Dover Castle. We have to wait ten minutes for the ticket office opens and then we head in. The secret underground tour is what we want and we are first in line. It gets better - they send us in as a group of 8 instead of 30. This allows us lots of room to see things and to ask questions. Our first stop is an Anderson bomb shelter where we listen to period radio announcements until we are given the all clear. From there we enter a room where we view a video with the history of the area leading up to WWII. From there we walk down a corridor that has graffiti carved into the walls dating from 1870 to 1945. The next room has a video displayed on a wall as well as maps and other details projected on a table in front of us. It is all to do with WWII, the number of soldiers, the leaders and the strengths and weaknesses of each country. We follow the battles, the advances, and wins and losses for each side. It ends with the allies being cornered in Dunkerque. (Dunkirk)
The next section has life-sized projections and details the events of the Dunkerque rescue. The hopes of getting some of the men off the beach leads to a major event whereby over 350,000 men are saved. The losses would have been hire had the beach been a shingle beach like Dover. It was sand and the men dug themselves in to protect themselves from the German strafing. The saved the heavy artillery for the ships.
The next room has photos showing Dover before, during and after. I will post a photo of St. James Church, which did not survive. The Castle did.
Finally what Roger had been waiting for. WWII and the room his mom worked in when she was an ATS in the WWII. The room is much the same as it was then, but perhaps had been shortened three feet. There they plotted on a big map where the planes and ships were. Following is the room where they tracked shelling and coordinated the antiaircraft guns. The next room is huge and is filed with banks of machines that would fit in one computer today. We pass an entrance to some tunnels they built in the 1940s. They were to be used in case of an atomic bomb. The men who built these were mostly Welsh miners. The problem they later discovered is that the chalk hillside would have let the radiation in and they would have died anyway.
When we left the tour we could see our B&B below as we were right on the cliff face.
Part two was our visit to the underground hospital. This visit was mostly a walk through with a recording in each area that was like a radio play of a situation and you were following the characters from the arrival of the ambulance to the end of the surgery. Patients were moved from here as soon as possible as it was a very dark depressing place to recover.
We stopped for our picnic before exploring the church which had for a period of time been used to store coal. It has been fixed up and is in use today. The bell tower next to it was a Roman lighthouse. There were two built, but this one is the only one to survive. It is said to be protected by the ghost of a Roman soldier.
The church proper is great to explore. There are tunnels through the walls, period actors, a couple of hologram actors, the dining hall is set for a meal, the kitchen is fully stocked, and one hall has a great fire going. The smoky haze filled the room...it was warm, but .. cough...cough. We are able to wander the casements, climb the tower, follow the medieval underground tunnels and view the amazing vistas all around us.
Some thoughts. The cost is high, 16 pounds, but we were happy with it. There were hoards of kids, most were great, but there was an unusually high number of kids just running rampant, yelling, slamming things, touching things and pushing by people. There are wheelchair accessible areas, but you really need to be steady on your feet to get the most out of this trip.
We walked home and got cleaned up so we could walk out on the White Cliffs of Dover. There were a few more people out this time, but before long it was mostly just Roger and I. One of the big black clouds that had been sailing by finally decided to drop some rain on us. I sheltered under a rather prickly bush until it blew by and we continued on. We left the view of the castle behind and then the port and its noise faded until it was just us and the land and sea. One could imagine what it was like so many years ago. We sit at the lighthouse for a bit before our return home. There are sections of the cliff that have pulled away from the main land, yet you can see that people walk out on them. It makes you a bit nervous too close to the edge. We sit for a while in view of the castle hoping for the haze to clear, but it appears that that is not to be.
Dinner that night is a pub called the White Horse. It is rustic, but the chips were great and Roger had his red meat and he was very happy. The walls are covered in felt pen documenting people’s solo and relay swims across the channel from England to France or France to England.