Things to see and do

Operation Dynamo: Rescue from Dunkirk

Immerse yourself in the drama of the Dunkirk evacuation of May 1940, in the very tunnels where the operation - codenamed 'Dynamo' - was masterminded.

Walk through the tunnels deep beneath the castle as state-of-the-art special effects, dramatic projections and real film footage bring this dramatic rescue operation to life.

Bringing them home

Join James Blincow and Rowena Willard-Wright as they head deep below Dover Castle into the same tunnels where the incredible rescue operation of 1940 was masterminded.

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80 Years On

This year we're marking 80 years since the evacuation at Dunkirk, and remembering the role played by Dover Castle within its story.

From 19 May - 4 June 2020, we'll be commemorating the anniversary by bringing its story to life with digital storytelling across our social media channels. Follow us to be transported into the wartime tunnels of Dover Castle and experience the rescue effort through stories inspired by eyewitness accounts.

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Vice-Admiral Ramsay on the balcony of Admiralty Casemate, one of the tunnels under Dover Castle, in April 1941. Ramsay was the officer in command of Operation Dynamo
Vice-Admiral Ramsay on the balcony of Admiralty Casemate, one of the tunnels under Dover Castle, in April 1941. Ramsay was the officer in command of Operation Dynamo
© Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Ramsay's Miracle Rescue

Imagine working day and night deep inside Dover Castle's top secret tunnels as war raged outside, in a desperate bid to rescue the troops stranded at Dunkirk as German forces closed in.

This life or death battle against time was won in only ten days in 1940, when Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay pulled off a 'miracle.' With unreliable communications, having to quickly find massive resources of ships and men, he coordinated the operation from his HQ in the tunnels below Dover Castle. Rescuing 338,000 soldiers, a number far beyond expectations, Ramsay is the unsung hero whose organisation and leadership achieved the greatest rescue in our history.

Operation Dynamo: Rescue from Dunkirk uses original news-reels and recordings, testimonies from veterans and dramatic special effects to recreate the terror and tension of these dark days of Second World War.

Tour the tunnels

The urgency and drama unfolds as you explore the tunnels. Tours, lasting around 50 minutes, are part guided by our knowledgable team and set off every 15 - 20 minutes.

Spitfires screech overhead and the boom, boom of anti-aircraft guns resonate while you feel the danger and desperation in the cramped tunnels. Vivid sets and original film give a graphic account of the horror of the French beaches under fierce enemy fire. It was here that Ramsay plotted and planned his brilliant operation, issuing the orders and making the decisions that saved so many lives.

The tour continues through some of the original rooms of the adjacent Army HQ. Dressed as they were throughout Second World War, they include the Gun Operations Room, Telephone Exchange, Repeater Station (communications room) and Coast Artillery Operations Room.

Why not relax in the Secret Wartime Tunnels café after your Dunkirk adventure? Recover with homemade sandwiches, hot stews and afternoon teas.

Wartime tunnels uncovered exhibition

For over 200 years the tunnels have provided shelter, safety and secrecy to those defending our shores. Delve deeper into the history of the tunnels, from Napoleonic times right up to the Cold War in this exhibition. Artefacts, interactives, real life stories, striking images and original wartime film footage are all used to trace the history of the tunnels across the centuries.

From a diary entry describing the dangers of tunnel life during the Napoleonic Wars, to the uniform of a private soldier in First World War, objects on display also provide a personal snapshot of life underground. Poignantly, they include a box of fragments from Nagaskai and Hiroshima, which represent the era when the tunnels were a Regional Seat of Government in the event of nuclear war.

Explore the whole tunnel complex with our virtual tour - including rooms that aren't open to the public.

Discover the story behind the Dunkirk evacuation of May 1940, partly through the voices of those who lived through it. See historical footage of action in Dover Harbour and Straits shot from the White Cliffs, and then look out from the tunnels to see a near-identical view today.

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