History Snap: Underground Operating Theatre, Dover

Underground Operating Theatre at Dover Castle. Image ©English Heritage
Underground Operating Theatre at Dover Castle.
Image ©English Heritage

It’s well known that the tunnels beneath Dover Castle were the military headquarters during World War II but did you know that a hospital was also concealed there?

Between 1941 and 1942, an annexe level of tunnels was created to house a hospital and provide refuge for civilians who may need shelter. *The first documented staff to man the Medical Dressing Station were the 52nd Field Dressing Unit RAMAC who were stationed there, under Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Edgar Walsh, between June and November 1943. Emergency treatment was given to pilots rescued from the channel, as well as military and civilian casualties, before they were transferred inland for recuperation.

Due to its proximity to the French coastline, Dover suffered heavy shelling from the German guns stationed there and the busiest time for the hospital was between late 1943 and mid-1944, when this was combined with a continuous air onslaught from V1 rockets.

This reconstructed operating theatre is now on permanent display and from 25-27 May 2013, visitors can also enjoy Dover Castle’s largest World War II weekend.  Military and civilian re-enactors will recreate the wartime atmosphere with explosive battles, vintage vehicles, living history re-enactments and, for when you need a moment’s rest, a fully operational NAAFI tea wagon.

For more information please visit www.english-heritage.org.uk

*As stated in the Dover Castle Secret Wartime Tunnel Conservation Plan August 2009

Published by

Rachael Hale (Homes and History Magpie)

Freelance home interiors and Kent history writer. Frequently found in dusty old buildings and 'Kent Life' magazine. Find me via Twitter - @rachaelhale1 Read my home interiors and history blog - www.historymagpie.com

5 thoughts on “History Snap: Underground Operating Theatre, Dover

  1. How interesting – you never know what’s buried beneath the surface!

  2. I was a todller at this time ,but remember the V1 rockets!I think my father may have known about the hospital as he was helping vaccinate troops during “Dunkirk”

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