Situated on the south coast of England, geographically and strategically, Dover more than played its part in the First World War. It was from its harbour that the many vessels of the Dover Patrol set about preventing German ships from using the English Channel. It was undoubtedly one of the most important Royal Naval units that Britain had during the First World War. Because of its important defensive roll, Dover was identified as a legitimate and relevant target by the German authorities. As a result, German Zeppelin's and Gotha aircraft subjected Dover to 113 aerial attacks, dropping 185 bombs in the process. The first of these raids took place on Christmas Eve, 1914; this was also the first time a German bomb had been dropped on British soil. The last raid was on 24 August 1918, in which twenty adults and three children were killed. The local residents who, for whatever reason, were unable to enlist in the military during the war, but who still felt the desire and obligation to serve their King and country, were able to do so in organisations such as the Dover Volunteer Training Corps.Most towns had similar units, and their members carried out some sterling work on the Home Front. By the end of the war, Dover and its people had sustained through testing and difficult times. Like every community throughout the nation, they had paid a heavy price. They had been as close to the war as it was possible to be, without actually being on the Front Line. Ships had sailed from its harbour to engage the enemy, and wounded soldiers had returned to the same harbour. Its men had gone of to fight in the war and, sadly, 721 of them never came back.
Stephen Wynn is a retired police officer having served with Essex Police for thirty years. His first book, Two Sons in a War Zone: Afghanistan: The True Story of a Father's Conflict, was published in 2010. It is his personal account of his sons' first tours in Afghanistan. Both of his grandparents served in and survived the First World War.