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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Romantic Novelists' Association Blog: FOCUS ON: Leicester Chapter

Romantic Novelists' Association Blog: FOCUS ON: Leicester Chapter: This month Lizzie Lamb gives us an insight into the Leicester Chapter and how it functions. To begin with perhaps you could tell us a b...

A super blog post shared from the Romantic Novelists Association.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The secret tunnels of the White Cliffs of Dover

The White Cliffs of Dover were the last sight of England for many British servicemen and women when they left our shores to fight in Europe, during World War Two, and the first thing they saw of home, for those who returned.
"Inside the secret tunnels of the White Cliffs of Dover: Network built to help stop Nazi ships during WWII opens to the public after being hidden for 40 years.

The long-forgotten Fan Bay Deep Shelter was carved out of the White Cliffs of Dover in 1940 at behest of Churchill. He ordered their construction to house gun battery teams as they pounded German ships traversing the Channel. Lying 75ft below the Kent coastline, the 3,500 sq ft of interconnecting tunnels once housed up to 185 soldiers. After remaining bricked up for more than 40 years, they will today open to the public for hard hat and torch-lit tours."

Some great photos in this article:…/Secret-network-tunnels-constru….

National Trust Project Manager Jon Barker (left) and volunteer Gordon Wise wear head torches to inspect the underground tunnels at Dover

Built in 1940, the tunnels were home to gun battery teams operating on the coastline during the Second World War. Pictured is Mr Wise - one of hundreds of volunteers who helped restore the tunnels

Located 75ft below the coastline, Mr Wise explores the tunnels as the National Trust prepares to open them to the public today

Lying 75ft below the Kent coastline, the 3,500 sq ft of interconnecting tunnels, which are reinforced with iron girders and metal sheeting, accommodated four officers and up to 185 men during the war.

The shelter - which was personally inspected by Winston Churchill in 1941 - was decommissioned in the 1950s before being filled in with rubble and soil and abandoned during the 1970s.

The shelter was carved out of the chalk by Royal Engineers from the 172nd Tunnelling Company in 1940. Pictured is graffiti dated January 20, 1941

The shelter was carved out of the chalk by Royal Engineers from the 172nd Tunnelling Company and had a hospital, secure store and five large chambers providing bomb-proof accommodation. And behind the heavy security doors and the 125 steps descending to the tunnels lie poignant reminders of the tunnel’s war-time history.

Etched into the chalk inside the tunnels is a large amount of graffiti, including names of military personnel, coarse inscriptions and an intricate 3D face of a young man, possibly a portrait.  Some of the inscriptions are accompanied by the regiment of soldiers, most notably from the Royal Engineers - 1941 is the most popular date which features alongside the signatures.  Written in chalk on a steel shuttering alongside where a bunk bed once stood is the phrase 'Russia bleeds whilst Britain Blancos' - a popular slogan adopted by disaffected soldiers referring to Blanco, a substance they used to clean and colour their equipment.

Other finds included pieces of wire twisted into home-made hooks by soldiers to hang their uniforms, and a Unity Pools football coupon dated February 20, 1943, recording 14 football matches. One of the first discoveries made by volunteers when they entered the tunnels was of a needle and thread, believed to be khaki wool, tucked into the tunnel wall.

There has been no public access to the tunnels for more than 40 years, but starting tomorrow, they will be reopened for tour

Pictured is graffiti found etched into the walls inside the tunnels. Pieces of writing, inscriptions and items offer a rare glimpse into wartime Britain

Pictured is one of two First World War sound mirrors which are also located at the site. Sound mirrors gave advanced notice of approaching enemy aircraft but became obsolete with the invention of radar in the 1930s

Bullets, including British .303 cartridges and American 30 calibre ammunition rounds, were also found throughout the tunnels, often tucked into small gaps in metal sheeting.
Two rare First World War sound mirrors also form part of the site.
Regarded as one of the first early warning devices invented in Britain, sound mirrors gave advanced notice of approaching enemy aircraft but became obsolete with the invention of radar technology in the 1930s.

White Cliffs volunteer Gordon Wise said: 'Seeing the tunnels in their raw state when they were first discovered, handling artefacts and giving tours is like standing in the footsteps of history.
'To be part of the digging team, mirroring the work the Royal Engineers originally took to excavate the shelter, was very special. I can’t wait to see what visitors make of Fan Bay Deep Shelter.'
The tunnels - once manned by troops from the 203rd Coast Battery, Royal Artillery, later becoming the 540th Coast Regiment - lie beneath land bought by the National Trust in 2012 following a £1.2million public appeal.

Guides will lead hard hat and torch-lit tours deep below the White Cliffs of Dover, telling people the story of the tunnels’ creation, use and abandonment in the 1970s.

The National Trust is asking for help in identifying the men from the 172nd Tunnelling Company, the 203rd Coast Battery and 540th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery and asking anyone with information to contact the White Cliffs.


The Fan Bay Deep Shelter extends 75ft underground in the cliffs on the edge of Fan Hole, White Cliffs, Dover.

Despite being more than 60 years old, the tunnels remain in good condition after they were filled in and abandoned in the 1970s.

Following the Allied evacuation from Dunkirk in May and June 1940, Churchill ordered the gun batteries and tunnels to be constructed to not only defend the area against German batteries - located on the nearby French coast at Cap Blanc Nez and Cap Gris Nez - but also to harass enemy shipping that was passing through the English Channel.  At their peak, they could accommodate up to 185 men and four officers, who worked firing shells across the Channel and into Nazi-occupied France.
The site is also home to two sound mirrors - giant relics from the First World War that were once at the forefront of aircraft detection technology. However, with the development of rudimentary radar in the 1930s, they were rendered obsolete by the time the nearby tunnels were constructed during the Second World War. The gun batteries and land were owned by the military until the 1960s, after which it was returned to the original owners who then sold it in 2012 to the National Trust.

This post is Work in progress. To be completed

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Elizabeth Ducie: Author: Elizabeth Chats With...Tina Burton

Elizabeth Ducie: Author: Elizabeth Chats With...Tina Burton: This month's visitor was the first guest on my monthly interview slot back in October 2013. She's a fellow Devonian writer, altho...