World War II: British Cities: Dover (July 1940-September 1944)

Figure 1.--The Germans began shelling Dover from artillery emplascents at Calais (August 1940). When the British gained control of the air, Dover became one of the few Channel ports that could be hit. Here we see Dover civilians still sheltering in the Dover Cliff caves durung 1944, probanly early 1944. M/i>

The fall of France placed Britain and British cities in the front line of the War. One of the first British cities struck by the Luftwaffe was Dover (July 6, 1940.. The port was particularly exposed as heavy German artillery at Calais was in range. The shelling began (August 12). Many civilians were evacuated. Those that remained sheltered in caves that went deep into the cliffs. Sources report that 2,226 shells landed in the town and 686 in the surrounding areas (July 1940 - September 1944). Hundreds more burst in the air or landed in the water of the harbor. 464 high explosive bombs and three parachute mines fell on the town. Auhorities sounded 3,059 air raid alerts. We do not have details yet on the German artillery. It must have been hardened emplacements as it would have been targeted by Allied bombers. German artillery deployment was affected by the Abwehr's assessment that the Allied landings would come in the Pas de Calais and thus Dover would be a port used by the landing force. The damage to Diver was heavy. Over 10,000 buildings were damaged. Mearly 1,000 were totally destroyed more than 2,900 severely damaged. Civil defense measures limited casualties. There were 216 civilians killed and 344 severely injured. The last shell fell on Dover (September 26, 1944). The shelling was finally ended when the Allies captured the German guns at Calais. Allies and finally fell silent. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the town to hoinor the people for their fortitude under 4 years of German shelling and bombing (October 18).


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Created: 9:47 PM 12/20/2009
Last updated: 9:47 PM 12/20/2009