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Dover: Lock and Key of the Kingdom

Dover in the Second World War - Evacuation

On 26 May 1940, following the German invasion of Holland,  Belgium and France, the Ministry of Health wrote to the Town Clerk declaring Dover an evacuation area and advising the  early removal of school children. That same evening the  Admiralty signalled the start of Operation Dynamo - the  evacuation of the troops stranded on the beaches at Dunkirk. At the height of the Dunkirk operation the evacuation of the  children commenced. At 7:45 am on Sunday 1st June the  first train carrying 707 children to safety in South Wales  pulled out of the Priory Station. By the end of the day 2899  children along with 235 teachers and helpers had left the  town. In the days and weeks that followed many mothers with  babies and people who had no need to remain in the town  left for safer parts of the country. Although 600 infants and  624 children between the ages of 8 and 14 remained in  Dover at the insistence of their parents, the population of the town was reduced from 40,000 to 15,000 within a few  weeks.
Children preparing to leave Dover, June 1940. Back to Second World War Index