In case you were sleeping during history class or missed the 2017 movie, this is the story of what is known as The Miracle of Dunkirk; where 338,226 allied troops were evacuated from this French stretch of beach, early in World War II. With the assistance of over 850 civilian boats, this military feat, known as Operation Dynamo, basically kept the Allied Forces in the war. Without this evacuation, World War II could have ended very differently.
With that introduction, it was an honor to visit this poignant site, located at the ancient Dover Castle, and tour these once secret, subterranean tunnels where British military worked around the clock during World War II. As you descend into the damp, chalky and dimly lit tunnels, you are transported back to wartime, 1940.
The guide barks at you in true military fashion, and the sound effects, including bombs, radio chatter, food preparation, and speeches bring to life the urgency of the Dunkirk evacuation. Ascending the 125 steps back up to daylight, I was deeply moved and felt emotional at the cost, the tenacity, and the sheer will of the British and allies to fight for freedom on all levels. Instead of writing a book on this experience, I encourage you to read up on this remarkable site, dating back to early 1800, on The White Cliffs of Dover.
Just steps away is the underground tunnel hospital; where WWII wounded, brought in by boat, received the bare necessities to stabilize the patient, then move them to the countryside where they could (hopefully) recuperate in an often commissioned English country house.
As you stand in the narrow, domed surgery theater, you listen to recorded conversations of medical staff trying to save a pilot, while lights flicker, bombs drop nearby, and the cold damp air bites. Again, this was not a happy tour, but a sobering insight to life during war. A frightened young girl, about 10, clings to her father's leg for comfort. On this tour, the pilot didn't make it.
Walking up from this labyrinth into the coastal wind, looking out over the Straits of Dover, there were no words to describe my gratitude to this island nation; just a humble prayer of thanksgiving. Yep...if necessary, this polite, tea drinking nation, will kick your ass! A lesson ol' Adolf learned! Did you really think I could post without being little Ms. Smarty Pants?!
WATCH Operation Dynamo
Plan on spending an entire day here; strolling among the memorials, see the statue of General Ramsey, WWII ambulance and gunnery exhibits; plus a cool museum with uniforms, hot tea and scones. Pay your respects. Watch for the upcoming post on The Dover Castle.