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Dover's 'bunker mentality' : Dover, its people and its tunnels in two world wars

Semple, Rory Joseph (2005) Dover's 'bunker mentality' : Dover, its people and its tunnels in two world wars. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94642) (KAR id:94642)


This thesis is a re-evaluation of the effects of two world wars on the town of Dover. The aim of the thesis is to show how the townspeople reacted to the new phenomena of bombardment from the air. Aerial bombing has become an accepted part of modem warfare but it was virtually unthought-of in 1914. In 1939 aerial bombing had become a part of warfare whilst shelling from sites in France added another unexpected twist to the town’s fortunes.

The thesis will show that a common goal existed, in both world wars, namely the winning of the war, but that disagreement on how to reach that goal also existed. It will also show the interactions between national and local agencies which controlled ordinary people’s lives during warfare and that national priorities are not necessarily the same as those of a local community.

To analyse the civilian reaction it has been necessary to review also the way that the military reacted to the same threats. This military presence has remained a part of the town’s fabric for centuries and without an evaluation of this aspect the civilian reactions cannot be placed in their full context.

The Dover area is riddled with tunnels. This has come about because of both military and civilian needs. The civilian tunnels have served as storage space and dwellings over the centuries. During the twentieth century they became more important to the town than at any point in the past. To the people of Dover the Tunnels’ were a fact of life but few would have envisaged their full significance before the first bomb fell on the town in 1914.

Life in the ‘frontline’ of two world wars was a difficult experience for the people of Dover. Daily life was interrupted by bombing and shelling attacks. In such a situation it was inevitable that the people developed a ‘bunker mentality’. The most visible facet of this mentality was the town’s desire for more air raid shelters. It was also apparent in the reaction of the town to the restrictions of British officialdom and to what was perceived as negative press and radio reports.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94642
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Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I (1914-1918)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II (1939-1945)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2023 11:41 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2023 11:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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