Discover more about Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate connections to WWII
Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and villages has many connections to the WWII years (1939-45). See one of the few surviving Spitfires with a wartime record, visit the ‘Little Ship’ Sundowner which rescued 130 men from the beaches of Dunkirk or experience life underground in the Ramsgate Tunnels that provided shelter to hundreds of families at the height of the Battle of Britain.
Ramsgate Tunnels Explorer
His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent reopened Ramsgate’s Tunnels on Tuesday 27 May, 75 years after his father was given a warm Kentish welcome when he opened the first section in 1939.
The tunnels were capable of sheltering up to 60,000 people and had their own electric lighting, water supply and natural ventilation system. People set up home 60 feet beneath the ground with bunk beds, clothes, kettles and treasured belongings, using partitions and curtains for privacy.
A visit to the tunnels will take you on a journey into this network and give you a feel for what life was like in this underground city.
RAF Manston Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum
This purpose built museum is dedicated to the pilots and aircrew of WWII. “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few,” Sir Winston Churchill said of the men who fought for supremacy of southeast England’s skies in the Battle of Britain 1940. The tactical superiority of the RAF thwarted German plans for invasion, although RAF Manston bore the brunt of early action. At the museum you can admire one of the few surviving Spitfires with a wartime record, as well as an impressive Hawker Hurricane and more personal memorabilia
RAF Manston History Museum
Discover more about Kent’s major role in wartime flying at RAF Manston History Museum – it was at Manston that the longest and widest runway in southern England was built, to provide a safe haven to damaged aircraft returning from Europe: the FIDO 'Fog Investigation Dispersal Organisation' system was deployed to enable landings in any weather
Hornby Visitor Centre
The new 'Airfix D-Day exhibition' helps commemorate one of the most important days of the last century and features a huge multi-media diorama supported by displays setting out some of the key stories from the ‘Day of Days’.
As well as the troops who landed in Normandy on D-Day, and those in supporting roles at sea and in the air, millions more men and women in the Allied countries were involved in the preparations for D-Day. They played thousands of different roles, both in the Armed Forces and as civilians
The D-Day diorama measures an impressive 26 square metres and features a huge range of buildings, aircraft, vehicles, figures and landing craft that would have been seen
in Normandy in June 1944. The display illustrates the scene as the Allies push inland from the beach and the German forces rush to hold them back along with the air support which was a major factor in this campaign.
Motor yacht ‘Sundowner’ (external viewing only)
Hundreds of ‘little ships’ set out from Ramsgate Royal Harbour to rescue troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940. One of these was the motor yacht Sundowner, which rescued 130 men and brought them back to Ramgate.
The Sundowner was restored in 1990 to take part in the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Dunkirk evacuation and is now a famous resident of Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour, berthed near the Maritime Museum.
Visit the WWII room at Margate Museum and see displays on rationing, gas masks and other military memorabilia. There is also a display relating to Dunkirk and in the Maritime room there are models of two paddle steamers with transported over 10,000 of the 48,000 men who were brought back to Margate from Dunkirk
Things to do
St. Peter’s WWII War Graves Tours - Remember those who died during or as a result of the 1939-1945 World War. There are 14 servicemen buried at St. Peter’s Church, but the tour also includes the graves of 5 local firemen who were killed by enemy action whilst on duty.
RIB Request trip to the Maunsell Forts - The Maunsell Forts are small fortified towers which were built in the Thames estuary during WWII to help defend the country from the Luftwaffe and e-boats. They were operated as army and navy forts and named after their designer, Guy Maunsell. The forts were decommissioned in the late 1950s and later used for other activities. RIB Request run boat trips to the Maunsell Forts from Ramsgate.
Ramgate Blitz Walks - Visit the places and hear the stories from the frontline of Britain’s heaviest bombed seaside town
St Peter's WWII Graves Tours (2015) - Wednesday 13 May 10am, Wednesday 10 June 7pm, Wednesday 8 July 2pm, Saturday 15 August 10am, Wednesday 9 Septemebr 10am and Wednesday 11 November 9.45am
Did you know?
Discover more interesting wartime facts about Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and villages by clicking here