Eileen Dyke

Recollections of life in wartime Dover.

On September 3rd 1939 Eileen Dyke listened to Neville Chamberlain on the wireless as he declared that Britain was at war with Germany. When the sirens sounded Eileen was out and she sought shelter in one of the local caves in Dover. Aside from this, the initial stages of the war were quiet for Eileen and it was not until Dunkirk that life changed significantly.  

A three week evacuation

Eileen was not evacuated as she was an only child and her mother did not want her to be sent away. However, after Dover was bombed her mother decided that she should be sent to stay with her grandmother, who lived in Woolwich. She returned after three weeks as the area was bombed. After returning she was offered a scholarship to attend a school in Edwardsville. She was billeted with a couple who treated her very well, and has has some fond memories of her time with them.  She learnt a lot from the husband, who was a woodwork teacher, and she went to the cinema weekly – this proved to be an essential part of her routine. It was during this time that she heard the ‘White Cliffs of Dover’. She returned home during every school break.

Air raids on Dover

Whilst experiencing raids in Dover, Eileen sheltered in the basement of her home. She was not too worried about raids as London was the primary target of the bombers. However one night in September 1944 Dover was hit – she was asleep under the kitchen table when the bombs started to drop. During this raid a local man, known to Eileen as Ol’ Admiral Benbow, was killed whilst sheltering in the Lagoon Caves after a bomb dropped close by. Her father had warned Eileen that she should be cautious and she was once again reminded of the dangers of war when three people were killed by falling bombs in the street, having spoken with them earlier that day.  During this period Canadian troops were active in Calais, attempting to take the artillery, and shelling was intense. When their success was announced Eileen recalls that everybody went ‘berserk’.

Media interpretations

Whilst considering how accurate post war media interpretations of the Second World War are, Eileen feels that whilst they are good, they do not contain enough contemporary footage from the conflict to educate school children effectively. 

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 14/03/2012.