Dover in the Great War

Welcome to the town page for Dover. Explore your town map to discover people who lived in your town during the First World War.

Dover was a key location during the First World War as a major embarkation port for all three services. Being home to the Dover Patrol, which was made up of various naval crafts including balloons and seaplanes, Dover was an important defence against the German Navy. The first bomb to fall on British soil in World War 1 fell close to Dover Castle on Christmas Eve 1914, and the threat from the sea saw a final tally of 23 shells landing on the town.

During the subsequent air raids throughout the war, Dover residents used the local caves as shelter, including the Oil Mill Caves off Limekiln Road. From 1916 the Municipal Borough of Dover and much of the rural district of Dover was designated a special military area; residents would have seen patrols in places such as Whitfield, with civilians being required to show a pass to enter the area. Many of these civilians would have been travellers on their way to work in munitions production in the surrounding towns, and during the Faversham Uplees factory explosion on 2nd April 1916, four Dover men were killed.

Those from Dover who served were present in all theatres of the First World War, not only on the Western Front. Many of the wounded returned through Dover, with Dover Marine Station being used for ambulance trains from 1915 onwards.

Please add information to your town page by clicking Upload Your Story. Tell those important stories about your relatives – share their experiences to help build a picture of your community during this period. Don’t forget to check out your local clubs and societies, and whilst you are exploring our site take a look at the other towns around the coast to discover more about Kent’s rich history during the First World War.

1. Dining Hall, Duke of York School

Dining Hall,Duke of York School Dining Hall,Duke of York School

2. Guard House

155dov-guard-house

An early picture which shows sentries on guard in Whitfield. The exact location is unknown. Civilians would have become accustomed to being challenged to show their documents as they approached Dover as it was a restricted area during the First World War.

From the Collection of Peter Wright

Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

3. Mrs Bailey in River

147dov-mrs-bailey-2-front 147dov-mrs-bailey-2-back

13 Dec 1918

The transcribed text reads:

 

Dear Claire,

 Here I am again, still quite well, all merry and bright. Rotten weather

Heaps of love Bert

Have received Tommie’s photograph xxx

To Mrs C Bailey

4 Valley Road

River

Near Dover

England

4. Mrs Bailey

146dov-mrs-bailey-front146dov-mrs-bailey-back

The transcribed text reads:

Dear Claire,

This is a very minute portion of the fine cathedral. The Boch actually left it alone. A lovely … of bells

Hope you are well. Heaps of love Bert

To Mrs C Bailey

4 Valley Road

River

Near Dover

England

Image courtesy of  Darrienne Price

 

 

5. Dover Troops

269dov-mrs-pentecost-hamstreet-front269dov-mrs-pentecost-hamstreet-back 

11PM

30 March 1915

DOVER

 

The transcribed text reads:

Dear Rose

Just a card to let you know I arrived back safe on Sunday might I have not had much time to write yet, but will write tomorrow, hoping you are still in the best of health

I remain yours as ever

Ted

 

Miss Pentecost

c/o m Maylam

Home Farm

Hamstreet

 

Image courtesy of D Price

6. Dover Castle

The Castle, Dover

602dov-the-castle-dover-front602dov-the-castle-dover-back 

7pm

17 March 1918

Dover

 

Arrived here safely and waiting for Boat. What a lovely day.

Kind regards,

Edgar

Mrs E.M. Hiswiks

13 New Station Rd

Fishponds

B’lot

 

Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

 

7. Commercial Harbour

Commercial Harbour, Dover

601dov-comerical-harbour-dover-front601dov-comerical-harbour-dover-back 5pm

25 January 1918

Dover

The transcribed text reads:

Jan 25/18

Dear Lillie

Just a few lines to let you know that I have arrived in Dover safe. Hoping this will find you in the best of health as it leaves me. Yours sincerely,

Herbert

Miss Lillie Stevenson

High St

Ruddington

Notts

Eng

Herbert possible was serving with Sherwood Forresters, some of whom were stationed in Dover.

 

Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

8. The Rolls Memorial

The Rolls Memorial, Dover Seafront

600dov-the-rolls-memorial-dover-front600dov-the-rolls-memorial-dover-back 

 8am

6 March 1916

The Castle, March, 1916

My dear Mr Thomas

Just a line to say I am safe in Merry Old England. This is a very quaint spot and I find it very interesting.

Have had my leave and went up to London, a wonderful city

Sincerely

L.G. Protter

 

H.S. Thomas

Care of Gothy … Sons

Philip Square

Montreal

Quebec

Canada

 

Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

9. Dover Patrol Flotilla

Dover Patrol Flotilla Memorial

599dov-dover-partrol-memorial-front 599dov-dover-partrol-memorial-back

Thursday

Dear Ma

Just a line to say that I can’t come up tonight sorry but I will be up tomorrow night if all goes well. I hope you are much better now mum cheer up. Well I can’t say much more now. Tons of love to all see you tomorrow night tata for I remain your ever loving son George

Xxxxx

Mrs Dixon

20 Albion Rd

Milton

Gravesend

Kent

This was sent in February 1918. The image was sold for the Dover Patrol Flotilla Fund. This mural table is in Canterbury Cathedral, there is also a mural tablet on the side of Dover Maison Dieu.

 

Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

10. Breezy Dover

Breezy Dover

6.15pm

24 July 1915

Dover

598dov-from-breezy-dover-front598dov-from-breezy-dover-back

 

 The transcribed text reads:

Dover Club

Dover

Dear Reggie

How would you like it to be down here to see the air ships and seaplanes. Only we have been having such a lot of rain, but it is nice and light this morning. Nanna is sitting on the front and I am cooking the dinner so must not stop to write more. Winnie is coming down next Friday and love to all from Auntie L

Master Reggie Dann

60 Kend Street

New Cross

London

L.E.

This refers to seaplanes which were stationed in Dover Harbour and the many airships which escorted the convoys up the Channel. Some airships were stationed at Capel-le-Ferne.

 

Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

 

 

11. Views from Dover

Views from Dover

595dov-views-from-dover-front

The YMCA huts were invaluable to the men, giving them somewhere warm and dry to meet, obtain refreshments and write home. Some also provided bathing facilities. In 1916 the people of Barnet, Hertfordshire, raised the money to provide the Barnet Hut, which was erected on the then Liverpool Street in Dover.( courtesy of the Dover Historian website)

Thus card was sent by Norman to Miss Dorris Room of 40 Lime Grove, New Malden, Surrey.

 

Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

12. Soldier’s Knockout

Army Boxing Match



This card from Jack of the 2nd Kent Battery Fort Burgoyne to his Uncle Mr A Austin of the Cinque Ports Arms Hythe shows a boxing match in October 1914.

The 2nd Kent Battery was formed in September 1914. The new recruits had a choice of joining the service battery for foreign service or the 2nd Kent (Folkestone) Battery. The men were billeted at the Artillery Drill Hall in Liverpool Street, Dover.

Source: Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald - Saturday 12 September 1914


 603dov-soldiers-knockout-front

603dov-soldiers-knockout-back

The transcribed text reads:

2nd Kent Battery

Fort Burgoyne

Dover

 

Dear Uncle

Just another PC. Just got knocked out- not half- hope all are well. From Jack

 

Postmark

9 p.m. 27 Oct 14

To

Mr A Austin

Cinque Port Arms

147 High Street

Hythe

Kent

 

Image courtesy of Darrienne Price

13. A Street Party in Victoria Street

The postcard above shows an image of a Street party celebrating the end of the War, located at Victoria Street (off London Road) in Dover. The actual date of this image is unknown, but we assume it was after the Armistice on the 11th November 1918. The postcard seems to have been written on by the child Leila Burton who apparently lived at 29, Victoria, street, Dover. Perhaps she is one of the children in this photograph.



151DOV - Street Party (Postcard) (Front & Back)

We must remember, however, that the Armistice was not the actual end of the War and that men were still stationed abroad waiting to come home in 1919 and some men stayed to clear the battlefields on the Western Front into the 1920’s.



Courtesy of D Price


14. The Danes Camp

The postcard below is from 10th November 1914 and is of a training camp at the Danes, (now the recreation ground east of Dover above Connaught Park.) The men who trained here would have been preparing to go to the Western Front, they could have travelled out through Dover but they might have first gone to Lydd to train in artillery or Deal for firing practice.



152DOV - Camp (Postcard) (Front & Back)

The Transcribed text reads:



'Dear L. This is a birdseye view of our camp, I have marked our tent with a X. The grey horse you see is the one Mr Clard used to ride. Yours S.H.H.'



'Miss S H Hildyard, 174 High St, Ramsgate'



We believe that the postcard about G was taken from the same location (see 5DOV)



Courtesy of D Price


15. The sinking of the German submarine U8

153DOV - The Sinking of Submarine U8 (Postcard) (Front)

The Picture above shows the sinking of the German submarine ‘U8’. This happened off the straits of Dover on March 4th 1915. According to the back of the postcard:



The following destroyers taking part in the hunt: ‘Ghurka,’ ‘Maori’, ‘Viking’, ‘Nubian’, ‘Mohawk’, ‘Falcon’, ‘Kangaroo’, ‘Cossack’, ‘Leven’, ‘Fawn’, ‘Syren,’ and ‘Ure,’ the coup de grace being administered by the ‘Ghurka’ and ‘Maori.’ The four officers and crew were all rescued, but in view of the probability that they had been guilty of attacking and sinking unarmed merchantmen, and firing torpedoes at ships carrying non-combatants, neutrals and women, the prisoners are to be subjected to special restrictions, and will not be accorded the distinction of their rank.



Courtesy of D Price


16. Ernest Varrall a member of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve WWI

291DOV - Ernest Varrall

‘Ernest Varrall was my great grandfather, who joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve during the First World War and became a telephonist on one of the vessels in the Channel. His full time work was later working as a Station Master at Walmer Train Station.’



292DOV - Ernest Varrall 2

‘The only information that I know about the photograph above, is that my great grandfather, Ernest Varrall, is sat on the bench, far end on the right.’



Image and text courtesy of Colin Varrall


17. Army Life

The Posctcard below was sent 29th July 1916.



As far as we know Private Hopper survived the War, the Church Army Recreation Hut was a place where facilities were provided for writing a letter home, a place for reflection or refreshment. By 1918 there were 800 huts in France and Flanders manned by volunteers as well as the huts in military barracks in Great Britain.



154DOV - Church Army Recreation Huts (Postcard) (Front & Back)

The Postcard reads:



‘Dear Miss Cain


I thought perhaps you might like to have a p.c from me and to hear that I am still in dear old England. I hope your Mother and yourself are both well as I am pleased to say I am very fit. I am still going on with my signalling course and am pickling it up very nicely. The weather has been beautiful during the last day or two and the hay making round this part is in full swing. I hear that Margate is rather devoid of visitors this season but we must hope and pray for a better and more peaceful state of affairs next year. If you would care to drop me a line I should be very pleased to hear from you at any time and with my kindest regards to you both I remain yours very truly Walter J Hopper’



‘Miss Cain, 4 Sussex Avenue, Margate, Kent'



‘Private W J Hopper 9157 C Company 9th buffs Old Park Camp, Whitfield, Dover’



From the collection of D Price


18. Sergeant Percy John Clark

Broadstairs War Memorial WWI Casualty list:



Sergeant Percy John Clark

Son of: Mr. & Mrs. John Henry Clark of 13 Alfred Road, Dover

Married: April 1916

Husband of: Emily Dode (formerly Clark), of Elmstone Court Lodge, Elmstone, Canterbury

Employed by: Mrs. Harfoot of Dumpton Hall, Broadstairs as a gardener

Enlisted: Royal West Kent Regiment May 1915

Service Number: 8004

Unit: 'A' Company, 10th Battalion, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)

Served in: Italy and France

Date of death: 27th April, 1918

Age: 31 yrs

Burial location: Hagle Dump Cemetery

Grave Ref: I, D, 4



Research courtesy of John T Williams


19. Homecoming of Sir Douglas Earl Haig on 19th December 1918

137DOV - Homecoming of Sir Douglas (Earl) Haig December 1918

This shows the homecoming of Sir Douglas (Earl) Haig, Commander of the British Expeditionary Force, at Dover on 19th December 1918 - some five weeks after the signing of the Armistice. It is believed that this picture shows Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Keyes, Commander of the Dover Patrol, seated beside him in the open car. Earl Haig is seated immediately behind the driver of the car. Earl Haig had travelled from Boulogne to Dover in the hospital ship Jan Breydel. See also 135DOV and 136DOV



Image and text courtesy of James Brazier


20. A photograph of a military parade in Dover

136DOV – Military Parade Dover

This could possibly be the same event as 135DOV & 137DOV the homecoming of Sir Douglas (Earl) Haig, Commander of the British Expeditionary Force, on 19th December 1918.



Image courtesy of James Brazier



Further information courtesy of Derek Donnelly:-



With regards to the picture 136DOV, there is no sign of the Promenade Pier in the shot. The pier was requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1913 as a landing pier for the duration of the war and was returned to the public in 1919.The pier was demolished in 1927, so the parade shown in 136DOV could not be from 1918 but from another event after 1927, possibly the Kings birthday celebrations.

21. Believed to be the homecoming of Sir Douglas Earl Haig on 19th December 1918

This picture was taken along the seafront in Dover towards the ferry port and is believed to be the parade for the homecoming of Sir Douglas (Earl) Haig, Commander of the British Expeditionary Force, on 19th December 1918. See also 136DOV and 137DOV.



135DOV - Grand Hotel homecoming Sir Douglas ( Earl) Haig 19th December 1918

Image and text courtesy of James Brazier



Further information - The Grand Hotel was destroyed by enemy action on September 11, 1940. The Hotel was demolished in 1951 when the whole area was redeveloped after the War – the Gateway Flats are now situated where the Grand Hotel and surrounding buildings once stood.


22. William John Barden

My great Uncle William John Barden was born in Dover 1878. He was killed in France & Flanders on the 3rd May 1917. William's name has been placed at Arrass cemetery.



Information courtesy of Sheila Durrant, John Barden’s Granddaughter


23. The funeral of Captain Harry Brocklesby Bartram RHA

Captain Bartram was the son of the Rev Canon Henry Bartram, the Vicar of St Mary the Virgin Church, Dover and who had previously served as the Vicar of Ramsgate.



133DOV - Funeral of Capt Bartram at Dover 1

134DOV - Funeral of Capt Bartram at Dover 2

Capt Bartram was born at Tunbridge Wells in 1877 and he left a widow and several young children when he died on 16th September 1914 at the Alexandra Hospital, Cosham. His family was living at Linby, Nottingham. Capt Bartram was a professional soldier who had earlier served in the South African War. He was sent to Belgium with his Battery on 17th August 1914 and, soon afterwards, saw action at the Battle of Mons. Owing to privations sustained in that campaign, he had to go into hospital suffering from gastritis. He was brought home to England to the Alexandra Hospital, Cosham where he, sadly, died. Just three days later, the funeral service was held on Saturday, 19th September 1914 at St Mary's Church, Dover and Capt Bartram was interred at Dover (St Mary's) New Cemetery close to his mother, who had died in 1909.



A full report of Capt Bartram's funeral was published in the Dover Express dated 25th September 1914



Image and text courtesy of James Brazier

24. G Postcard Front and Back

Below is a picture of G who is referred to in the image of the reverse of the postcard. From the text, we know that the author C Price was using an address in Buckland Avenue Dover at the time of writing; however, we have no photo or any further information about him, he also could have served. (See also 152DOV which we believe was the same camp)



5DOV – G Postcard Front and Back

The transcribed text reads:



Dear Flo, I thought I would send this to see if you have forgotten me as I haven’t heard an ans: to my last letter yet. G has gone out East, been on the sea just a week now. I do miss him, and I heard he has gone for two years. I do hope not. Well dear I should like to have a line from you just to let me know how you are getting on. Much love. C Price



Miss Flo Mercer Godinton File Works, Ashford, Kent.



We have no information about G other than he was going overseas. We assume from this he was going to serve attached to the Indian Army. We need help in identifying the regiment- he could have been with: the 1/5th (Weald of Kent) Battalion, which was broken up on arrival in India and joined Jubbulpore Brigade in 5th (Mhow) Division. November 1915 to 35th Brigade in 7th (Meerut) Division in Mesopotamia.



From the collection of D Price

25. Bomb Locations

This postcard was produced after the War to show where the 184 bombs and 23 shells landed on Dover during the First World War.



4DOV - Bomb Location

The bombs would have been from both Zeppelins and aeroplanes and include the location of the first bomb to fall from an aerial attack on British soil- St James’s Church on Christmas Eve 1914. The shells which landed would have been fired from the sea when Dover was shelled by the German Navy.



From the collection of D Price

26. Whitfield Sentries on Guard

53DOV - Whitfield Sentry Guard September 1914

An early picture showing the Sentries on guard in Whitfield, Nr Dover. The exact location is unknown*. Civilians would have become accustomed to being challenged to show their documents as they approached Dover as it was a restricted area during the First World War.



Image and text courtesy of Peter Wright



*Further information courtesy of Susan Stewart:


'The cottage was at the top of Whitfield Hill before the roundabout and new road system was there. There were two other cottages in other locations and I understood they were connected to Old Park House.'



27. Edward James Dray

From our ‘Family histories’ section: The Dray Family: ‘John Dray and his wife Sarah Dray’ Courtesy of Pam Dray

65DOV - Edward James Dray

Edward James Dray was born on the 4th June 1881 in Shepherdswell, Dover Kent. He was the son of John and Sarah Dray who were a farming family. Edward was married to Alice Rose Dray of 90, Woodhouse St, Ipswich. Edward enlisted in the Navy and became Edward James Dray Stoker 1st class In the Royal Navy, Unit Text (R.F.R./CH/B/7741) H.M.S. “Proseperine”. He died on the 28th June 1916. His service number was 292393 and his Grave Memorial ref is 111.B.1 located in Basra War Cemetery.



Image courtesy of the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)