Folkestone Shelling

The 26th September 2019 will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of cross-Channel shelling of Kent by the huge German naval guns emplaced in the Pas de Calais.

Kent was unique in being the only part of the country to face an assault by this type of weapon. The county had to endure the shelling in addition to the bombing, straffing and later ‘vengeance’ weapons the V1 and V2. ;xNLx; This online timeline hopes to highlight a part of the story of the shelling of Kent based on an album, held at the Kent Archives, that mapped out each recorded incident in the town of Folkestone over the period 1940 to 1944. The album, catalogue number [Fo/W4/5](, contains multiple town plans, each marked with the type and number of assaults, casualty figures, numbers of houses destroyed, badly damaged and slightly damaged. ;xNLx;Some of the incidents are accompanied by photographs, and a selection are reproduced here. The background image shows an example of one of the maps, in this case 25th September 1944. ;xNLx;The facts in the album are cold statistics, and we recommend any reader wishing to enquire further into these stories to read [Target Folkestone]( by Roy Humphries and [Front Line County]( by Andrew Rootes.;xNLx;Of the thousands of guns in Hitler’s ‘Atlantic Wall’ 11 were huge long-range guns, sited in the Pas de Calais, which persistently shelled the coastal towns of Kent. The largest were the three guns of Batterie Lindemann at Sangatte. These were huge 406mm calibre guns, intended for Germany’s largest battleships, each in an armoured turret and protected from bombing by enormous reinforced concrete casemates, and capable of firing shells over 34 miles. ;xNLx;Batterie Todt, at Cape Griz Nez, housed four 380mm guns equally protected in huge bunkers.;xNLx;Observers in Kent would see flashes from the batteries, indicating the firing of a salvo of shells, each salvo taking sixty seconds to cross the Channel before wreaking destruction and death in the coastal towns. Folkestone, Dover, Deal, Ramsgate, St. Margaret’s Bay and Hythe were all targeted, with shells recorded falling nearly as far as Maidstone.

1940-08-12 00:00:00

The first shell falls

It is almost certain that the first shells to hit Folkestone were fired from a 280mm K5 railway gun. Three of these huge rail mounted guns were hidden in reinforced concrete tunnels. The first shell hit No.14 Millfield. Other shells fell on Cornwallis Avenue and Shornecliffe Road.

1941-01-27 00:00:00

Wellington Road

A single shell landed near Wellington Road causing no damage or casualties.

1941-03-01 00:00:00


8.00am The Gymnasium at Shorncliffe camp was partially demolished and minor damage was caused to military buildings.

1942-06-22 00:00:00

Batterie Lindemann

At Sangatte, on the coast of France, the huge bunkers of Batterie Lindemann near completion. On 22nd June 1942 the massive 406mm calibre guns fire on Kent for the first time.

1942-10-05 00:00:00

Bradstone Avenue

8:15pm Two people were killed and two injured when shells hit Bradstone Avenue, the Customs House and the pier.

1942-11-09 00:00:00

Clarence Street

At 8:22pm on 9th November 1942 two people were killed and eighteen injured when ten houses and two shops were completely demolished in Clarence Street, Dover Street and Tontine Street. Those killed were both in Clarence Street. Robert Simpson, 54, of No.19, and 17 year old William Baker of No.46.

1942-11-11 00:00:00

The searchlight battery

A brick building on the golf links, occupied by the crew of a searchlight battery, received a direct hit on the evening of Armistice Day, killing four and injuring three (the site is marked on the map as the site of the second tee of the golf links, today the site of Beech Close).

1943-03-12 00:00:00

33 High Street

The World’s Stores, at 33 High Street, and the neighbouring Earl Grey public house were damaged by a shell which fell in the early hours. The Customs House received yet more damage from a second shell.

1943-05-01 00:00:00

Claremont Road

A gas main was fractured and burst into flames after a shell fell at the corner of Claremont Road and Brockman Road at 10:47pm. A second shell exploded in the garden of The Esplanade Hotel, shattering all of its windows.

1943-06-29 00:00:00

Royal Pavilion Hotel

11.50pm. Shells fell at Boscombe Road and the Royal Pavilion Hotel. Two houses were demolished, two badly damaged and one hundred and fifty three houses slightly damaged.

1943-07-05 00:00:00

Dover Road

3:20am. Six people were injured, including a child, when a shell struck Dover Road. One hundred and twenty two houses were slightly damaged or temporarily uninhabitable, two were badly damaged and two completely demolished.

1943-09-04 00:00:00

On the beach

12:20am. Shells landed on the beach, resulting in no damage to property.

1943-09-25 00:00:00

The Durlocks

4:38am. Tragedy struck in the early hours of September 25th when two children were killed when a shell struck No.4 The Durlocks. Two year old Derek Pedgen and his ten year old sister Jean died when the house was hit. Their mother was rescued in an unconscious state.

1943-10-03 00:00:00

Clarence Road

10:50pm. A child was injured when shells hit Clarence Road, Bradstone Road, Foord Road and Park Farm. A gasholder was put out of action and three to five hundred houses were damaged.

1943-11-03 00:00:00

Cherry Garden Lane

At 10:49pm a shell landed at the rear of Cherry Garden Lane.

1943-12-04 00:00:00

Gordon Boys School

Military troop carriers were hit and one burnt out when shells hit at 3:37am. A wall of the Gordon Boys Club was blown out by a shell which landed in Dover Street.

1943-12-23 00:00:00

Foord Street

This dramatic photo shows Rye’s Stores at 28 Foord Street, as seen from New Street, after blast damage from a shell at 9:23pm on the evening of 23rd December. Earlier that evening a shell had pierced the base of a tall chimney at Tolputt’s timber yard without bringing down the chimney, and another exploded near the East Cliff battery. Two hundred houses were slightly damaged.

1944-01-20 00:00:00

Ashford Road

5:28am. Shells landed across Folkestone in the early morning, from Hasborough Road at the eastern end to Ashford Road at the western end. Two hundred houses were slightly damaged, fourteen were extensively damaged and one destroyed.

1944-04-20 00:00:00

Joyes Road

11:55pm. Two hundred houses were slightly damaged when a shell penetrated to a depth of eighteen feet before exploding behind Joyes Road.

1944-05-24 00:00:00

Alexander Street

1:39am. Fred and Mary Palmer, of No.49 Alexander Street, died when their house received a direct hit in the early hours of 24th May. Six more people were badly injured. Three houses were demolished and two hundred damaged.

1944-06-13 00:00:00

Heaviest concentration of shelling in one day

12:40am. The heaviest concentration of shelling in one day occurred on the 13th June 1944. Beginning in the early hours, forty two shells rained over the town and borough. Areas hit included Sidney Street School (shown here), Beachborough Road (shown here), Wear Bay Road and Burrow Road. Over one thousand properties were damaged and others, such as the St. Eanswythe Mission Hall, were completely demolished. The 13th June marked the beginning of a new wave of terror, the V1 vengeance weapons, pilotless flying bombs, began their assault on this day.

1944-06-24 00:00:00

East Cliff

3:20pm. Eight people were injured when shells landed in the East Cliff area, badly damaging two and slightly damaging ninety houses.

1944-09-01 00:00:00

The Stade, Bellevue

2:40am and 3:23am. Ten people were injured and the Dover Road Fire Station was extensively damaged when eight shells landed in the early hours of 1st September. The adjacent pictures show Bellevue Street, The Stade and Margaret Street. Other shells landed at Bradstone Avenue, Brickfields and Park Farm. As the Canadian and British forces closed in on Pas de Calais, the German naval batteries responded by shelling Kent with a new intensity.

1944-09-02 00:00:00


At 1:30am on 2nd September shells injured five people and fractured a secondary water main in the area of the brickworks.

1944-09-10 00:00:00

Dudley Road

Forty-seven year old Daisy Mockett was killed at No.38 Dudley Road when a shell struck at 10:28am. Her eighty year old mother Margaret succumbed to her injuries at the Royal Victoria Hospital two days later. Thirteen others, including three children, were injured. Three houses were demolished, twenty were seriously damaged, and fifty slightly damaged.

1944-09-11 00:00:00

Cherry Garden Avenue

Twenty-four sheep were killed in a field behind Cherry Garden Avenue at 2:25am.

1944-09-13 00:00:00

Rita Place

This photo shows rescue workers at No.13 Rita Place, but unfortunately their efforts were in vain as sixty-six year old Charlotte Simpson was deceased when found beneath the wreckage of her home. Shells fell on Folkestone from 11:10am to 4:45pm causing damage in Dolphin Road, Shaftsbury Avenue, Tile Kiln Lane, Waterworks Hill and Cooks Orchard. Twenty-four people were injured, including four children.

1944-09-14 00:00:00

Charlotte Street, Radnor Park Gardens

Shelling on the 14th September caused the greatest number of casualties in a single day in Folkestone. It began at 12:00am and lasted until 9:40pm. The adjacent photograph shows Charlotte Street, where Martha Kendall of No.13 and Amelia Packer of No.15 were killed shortly before five o’clock. The final salvos at 9:37pm caused more loss of life when shells hit the western end of the Royal Victoria Hospital. Outside the hospital Alfred Bush was killed by shell splinters. Inside nurse Vivienne Ibbet and linen maid Florence Haswell were killed and, perhaps the most tragic of all, eight week old Vivienne Elliot asleep in her cot. Thirty-eight people, two of whom were children, sustained injuries. Other areas affected by the shelling included Radnor Park Crescent, Radnor Park Gardens (also shown), Hill Road, Coolinge Lane and Cherry Garden Lane. Twelve houses were totally or partly demolished, one hundred badly damaged and no less than six hundred houses were slightly damaged.

1944-09-15 00:00:00

Walton Gardens, Canterbury Road

At 5:30pm a shell exploded near St. Saviour’s church, killing an airman from the RAF who had been walking past, causing damage to these houses opposite on Canterbury Road. Later that evening, just before starting his shift at midnight, Police Sergeant William George Dickson heard a shell burst and had gone outside his house to see where it had exploded. As he stood outside his front door at 29 Walton Gardens he was hit by the blast from a second shell and was killed.

1944-09-23 00:00:00

Radnor Bridge Road

Unusually just one shell fell on Folkstone on this day. The German battery would normally fire a salvo of four shells. That one shell fell in the garden of No.11 Radnor Bridge Road and would claim the life of its occupant, well known Folkestone licensee Albert John Relen. He had previously been the proprietor of the Royal George Hotel.

1944-09-25 00:00:00

The last day

11:06am and 4:26pm The Harvey Grammar School was the first building to be struck by a shell on Monday 25th September, another fell in the same area at Beechborough Road. Two more shells fell on open ground. At 4:26pm two shells landed in the sea in front of The Leas, another exploded on the beach throwing up thousands of pebbles. The next shell blew out the top of the Castlehaven hotel, close to the Leas Cliff Hall. Many of the guests were downstairs at the time the shell hit, so escaped serious injury. The people of Folkestone did not know it yet, but it was the last one. The shelling was finally over.

1944-09-30 13:00:00

The Mayor's announcement

Shortly before 1:00pm vans with public address systems drove around all parts of the town playing over and over the message: ‘A special announcement for the citizens of Folkestone ...

Folkestone Shelling

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