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The Community Website for Walmer, near Deal, Kent

Walmer's Past
Times Remembered
WalmerWeb is pleased to receive first-hand accounts of significant past events as well as everyday life in Walmer and Deal. If you would like to contribute to this part of the website, please contact the Webmaster.

Hawkshill's Vital Role in World War II

Cyril Highman of Newport, Gwent, South Wales recalls how a radar facility at Walmer's Hawkshill Down ensured precision bombing. He writes:

"I can find very little about the history of Walmer during the war, a period when many of its residents were evacuated because of its close proximity to the French coast and the threat of German activity. Shelling from Cap Griz Nez was a persistent danger in this part of 'Hellfire Corner' of Kent extending from Sandwich almost to Folkestone.

"As a radar mechanic in the RAF, I was posted in early 1943 to a newly built radar station sited at Hawkshill Down. The South Forelands strip of the Kent coast provided the nearest point as the crow flies to the heavily industrialised Ruhr area of Germany. Attempts to bomb this prime target in the early part of the war had been mainly a failure using the navigational systems available to the RAF up to that time. The radar research establishment, having moved to Malvern College from Dorset, contrived a radio navigational system known under the cover name of 'Oboe'. This enabled mosquito aircraft to mark targets with a 90-yard accuracy at 250-mile range. These would be the pathfinders for the masses of heavy bombers now guided by coloured flares dropped by the pathfinders.

"Hawkshill laid down radio navigational beams, working with a sister station in Norfolk, and together they revolutionised the RAF bombing success in attacking German industrial and military targets. The part played by this site in helping to win the war was immense."

Cyril later added a footnote:

"As 'Oboe' developed and enlarged, new units were set up in Kingsdown using magnetron transmitters, not easily jammed by the Germans. From the original small complement of RAF types installed in private houses (I found myself with a nice family in Walmer Castle Road near the Drum public house), the station expanded its WAAF complement taking over some of the many large empty houses in the area."

Kingsdown and Walmer in World War II

"Memories of childhood in a prohibited area" by Dr Rosemary Gilbert is one of the articles in "WW2 People's War", an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. In the following extract Dr Rosemary Gilbert (formerly Ingham) says:

"We lived firstly in a bungalow on the Ringwould Road at Kingsdown and then at Walmer, experiencing bombing, shelling from France, and V1s (Doodle-bugs) and V2s droning above us towards London."

To read more, go to: www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/61/a6594861.shtml

A Royal Reunion

"A Royal Reunion after 51 Years" by John Reed is one of the articles in "WW2 People's War", an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. In the following extract he says:

"51 years later, in 1992, I heard that she, now of course the Queen Mother, was coming to visit Walmer Lifeboat Station in Kent. I wrote to her, recalling that we had met in 1941. She wrote back, saying she would be pleased to meet me again. At Walmer she said it was nice to see me again and I wished her a happy day."

To read more, go to: www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/28/a4681028.shtml

Deal in World War II

"A mother’s war time memories related by her child" is one of the articles in "WW2 People's War", an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. In the following extract daughter Lydia O’Connor says:

"Deal was a major Royal Marines barracks town and during the war many overseas soldiers were also billeted there. Lydia was the only child born in Deal during Warship and Warweapons week on Sunday 25th May 1941..... Lydia’s mum and aunt were worked in the hop gardens at Smith’s farm, Staple staying in the hop pickers' huts.... One of Lydia’s cousins, Jimmy was at school at the Convent when it was bombed...."

To read more, go to: www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/49/a4390049.shtml

Piddock Family Connections With Deal

In November 2008 Herbert Piddock from Southampton contacted WalmerWeb to say:

"My family were in and around Walmer and Deal for centuries. My great grandfather was gardener at Deal Castle circa 1870. My father and grandfather Piddock were Royal Marines. Great grandfather Maxwell had a 'beer shop' at 15 Gladstone Road after RM service in the Infirmary circa 1800."
Mr Piddock can be contacted by

Hawkshill Recalled

In January 2008 Simon Cochran from West Sussex told WalmerWeb:
"I used to work at Hawkshill Camp back in the days before it became a "private estate", and used to look after the War Memorial."
Simon can be contacted by

And in August 2007 Michael O'Halloran from Columbus, Ohio, USA also remembered visits to Hawkshill:
"Thank you for this website. I have enjoyed visiting it and refreshing my memories of Walmer and Deal. I spent many summers there as a child encamped at Hawkshill Camp. Thank You again for the pleasure. A displaced Londoner."
Michael can be contacted by

The Uptons and the Royal Arms/Green Berry

In September 2010 Madeline from St Helier, Jersey contacted WalmerWeb to recall family connections with a local pub. She explained:

"I was interested to see the photo of the Green Berry public house in Walmer. My grandmother, Alice Upton, used to own this pub when it was the Royal Arms, and my brother and I used to spend the school summer holidays there. I remember we used to sit on the wall at the bottom of the garden, overlooking the Royal Marines parade ground, eating cherries from the tree. We used to awake to the early morning call. Such happy memories of a lovely place.

"My Auntie Reita and Uncle Les (Upton) took the pub over from Grandma and ran it for many years. I remember, as a youngster, seeing the soldiers coming and going into the pub in the evenings. I also remember Snowy from the Royal Marines Band, throwing the stick into the air, as they passed the Royal Arms. I was saddened to read of the IRA attack some years ago."
Madeline can be contacted by

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      This page was updated on June 28, 2016