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15 October 2014
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Memories of War Time in Dover, Kent

by historycentre

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Edith Watkins
Location of story: 
Dover, Kent
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
06 October 2004

Just before the war we were issued with I.D. cards, ear plugs and gas masks.
Anderson shelters were installed in gardens.
My Dad was called up before the war began because he was a Company Sgt. Major in the T.A. By 1940 he was fighting in France.
May 1940 the evacuation of Dunkirk began, we had no news of my Father so when the troops were landing at Dover, Prince of Wales Pier, my Grandfather, my Mother, my brother and I would go to the Pier each evening to see if there was any sign of my father. My grandfather bought cigarettes each day for us to pass on to the soldiers as they came off the pier on to the buses.
Unfortunately my father was not with them.
He was a prisoner of war.
A short time after early June, the children of Dover were to be evacuated. My brother and I amongst them were sent to Monmouthshire in Wales. I did not like it.
We stayed only nine months. My mother came to bring us back home.

When we arrived home it was not safe to live in the house because, being so near to the French coast we had bombing and shelling. When the siren sounded once it meant there was a bombing raid, twice it was for a shelling raid.

Because of the conditions my Mum was very frightened for our safety we literally moved into the caves. The caves were equipped before the war in readiness for this situation.

There were not many people who stayed in the caves all the time, but they filled up when the bombing/shelling occurred. Inside were bunk beds, electric light, a form of electric heating and a bench that went the whole length of the caves. Obviously the schools were closed, so we amused ourselves as best we could. We were invited to a friends house near the caves for a short period of the day, we did shopping as quickly as we could.
We then moved house nearer some freshly equipped caves, about 1942. As the shelling raids became more frequent the caves filled up. Mr. House asked for volunteers to run a canteen inside the caves. My mother and I volunteered.
Each day we went to the Bakers for rolls and cakes, we were supplied with tea urn and a teapot which we used each night, also during Air/Shell raids. We decorated the caves all round our beds at Christmas. There was also a Civil Defence man who played in a three piece band and he came often to entertain us. We stayed there during the war, even though my brother and I started work. We went to the Public Baths to bathe, and were allowed only five inches of water per bath.
In the last cave we stayed in there was an operating theatre ready equipped, but it was not used. We went home in 1944 and went back to the caves to sleep.

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