Liberty Adventures: Discovering Dover Castle, Secret Wartime Tunnels
By Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 01, 2011
DOVER, England -- It stood strong under siege in 1216 and was overrun by locals in 1642. On March 26, 2011, its gates were compromised again when Liberty Warriors on an RAF Lakenheath Information Tickets and Travel trip visited Dover Castle and the Secret Wartime Tunnels.
According to Steve Friedrich, English Heritage visitor's operations member, the castle offers more than just insight into medieval history, noting that the Secret Wartime Tunnels were very important during World War II.
"It (the Secret Wartime Tunnels) is one of the few places where you can actually see a section of World War II command center preserved," he said. "It is historically very significant to U.K. history and World War II history."
Along with the Secret Wartime Tunnels, the castle, which was built by King Henry II from 1180 to 1185, has a variety of other attractions. Some of these include a Roman pharos, or lighthouse, which was probably built in the first century A.D., barracks that garrisoned soldiers for 900 years, immense defenses around the castles and the Great Tower, which stands 83-feet high and has walls that are 21-feet thick in areas.
The castles defenses have been tested and improved many times during its existence.
Its first test came at the hand of Prince Louis and a division of the French Army who assisted local rebel barons in May 1216. By autumn, Windsor and Dover were the only castles in Southern England under King Henry II's control. In 1642 the castle fell to local rebels during a civil war. Defenses and extra gun positions were added in the late 18th century during the Napoleonic Wars. During World Wars I and II, the castle was armed with anti-aircraft guns, search lights and radar.
"Dover Castle ... is an absolutely gorgeous castle," said Dawn Michalek, an RAF Lakenheath ITT volunteer. "There is so much (history) that you can see. It's not just ancient history, it is (also) more recent history. So it shows how the building has been used throughout this massive amount of years."
The RAF Lakenheath ITT office offers several trips every month to castles and stately homes around the United Kingdom. The next trip to Dover Castle and the Secret Wartime tunnels will be April 23, 2011.
For more information about travel opportunities call the RAF Lakenheath ITT office at commercial 01638 522 979 or DSN 226-2979 or visit their website at www.ittlakenheath.com.
(Editor's note: No federal endorsement is intended or implied concerning places of interest covered by the 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs.)