So I had the title for this piece before I had even got off the train. Of course. I haven't googled it. Maybe it's already a tired out piece of Kent punnery. Still.
Regular readers will be aware that I am more than happy to follow in the footsteps of Winston Churchill if he's leading me to some underground WWII HQ or secret tunnel. The Cabinet War Rooms café is a favoured hangout of mine. I am in the corner most afternoons with a 1943 Daily Telegraph and a camo-bowler hat. And of course there's my local bunker.
So. All the way to Dover to visit the "Secret Tunnels" under the White Cliffs. This is where they planned the Dunkirk evacuation. France is only 20 or so miles away and the shells took only 30 seconds to cross the channel. Dover was on the front line. It was known as "Hellfire Corner".
There was a full size hospital here, used to treat emergency casualties. Shot down or blown up men fed constant morphine and left to stare at the white walls. No windows. On the guided tour you follow an audio re-enactment of an airman being rushed from the entrance through to the operating room, lights flashing, sirens, sounds of bombs. Pretty good. Like a radio play with no plot, it fades out with him still on the operating table.
Further down is "Dumpy". Another secret level. A cold war era bunker from which the BBC could broadcast emergency TV in case of a nuclear war. They had probably planned a lot of home makeover shows I guess.
But "Dumpy" is out of bounds. I can't get past the door. Health and Safety. Which is also the reason you can't take any photographs anywhere. Not to worry. I sneaked one with my spy cam. Winston would have expected as much.
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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