Warfare in News

Posted on Monday 20th July

A new National Trust site at Dover has been opened to the public for the first time. Second World War tunnels built beneath the White Cliffs of Dover on Winston Churchill's orders are now open for visitors after a two-year excavation project.

According to the National Trust website, Fan Bay Deep Shelter was built in the 1940s as part of Dover’s offensive and defensive gun batteries, which were designed to prevent German ships moving freely in the English Channel. Carved out of the chalk cliffs, the shelter accommodated four officers and up to 185 men of other ranks during bombardments in five bomb-proof chambers and also had a hospital and secure store. It was decommissioned in the 1950s and filled in two decades later.

The tunnels were discovered in 2013 beneath land purchased by the Trust. Over the past two years a team of over 50 volunteers, two archaeologists, two mine consultants, two engineers and a geologist excavated and prepared the tunnels for opening to visitors.

Visitors will descend 23 metres below ground down the original 125 steps to reach the labyrinth of tunnels, once manned by troops from the Royal Artillery. The shelter was originally dug by tunnelling units from the Royal Engineers.

Wartime graffiti discovered in the tunnels including names of military personnel, ditties and drawings carved into the chalk, serve as poignant reminders of the shelter’s history on the tours. Other personal mementoes on show include wire twisted into homemade hooks by soldiers, a needle and thread tucked into the tunnel wall and ammunition.

For more information and to plan your visit, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk.

Further Reading

Naval Warfare in the English Channel 1939 - 1945

Only £25.00

Naval Warfare in the English Channel 1939 - 1945

(Hardback - 304 pages)
by Peter C Smith

From the year 1066 the English Channel has provided Great Britain with a natural defensive barrier, but never more than in the early days of World War Two. This book relates how the Royal Navy defended that vital seaway throughout the war. From the early days of the Dover Patrols, through the traumas of the Dunkirk evacuation, the battles of the Channel convoys; the war against the E-boats and U-boats; the tragic raids at Dieppe… Read more...

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