Churchill visits 'Hell-Fire Corner'

On 28th August 1940 Churchill visited Dover, to see for himself the town that was under repeated air attack as well as shelling from the French coast.

It was while we were at Dover, that we saw the approaching German bombers and just a short distance away they were met by British fighters. Mr Churchill seemed mesmerized as the air battle took place almost overhead. We saw maybe two German bombers crash into the sea and some fighters with smoke trailing from them as they spiraled away from the main dogfight.

Later that afternoon, we had to drive to Ramsgate and on the way we saw a smoldering aircraft in a field, and Churchill asked the driver to pull off the road and get as close to the wreckage as he could. There was firemen, soldiers and ARP men standing around and I walked with the Prime Minister towards the aircraft. Even though I warned Mr Churchill about the dangers of being out in the open during an air raid, he said that he must have a look, and when he saw the tangled mess he said ‘Dear God, I hope it isn’t a British plane.’ He was reassured that it was not.

Inspector W.Thompson, Churchill’s bodyguard

The Dover War Memorial Project records that there was a steady stream of civilian casualties during 1940. The Ministry of Information appear to have been quite desperate to give a positive picture of the situation in Dover. The town’s citizens are presented as being almost nonchalant in the face of the onslaught:

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