Ideas for a response to the Dover Western Heights

Posted on January 28, 2015

Initial ideas for responding have centred on Phil Eydens book about the heights. There are many interesting stories in it; the battle of Le Cateau for instance and the role of the Kings Own stationed at Dover prior to the war.

Some other possible ideas to respond to are;

the role of the Searchlight crews
the role of air defence and the damage done to Dover by Zepellins, Gothas and the German Navy
the photographs that Phil Eyden has recently uncovered. These were made by a young pay clerk at Archcliffe Fort and depict the soldiers there. They are all informal and off-duty; most unusual to have images of soldiers like this from this time period.

The role of training in the British Army. The idea that the Western Heights is a silent witness to many thousands that passed through. The training battalion of the East Kents and East Surreys was stationed here. They were part of the 18th Division under General Ivor Maxse. The 18th Division was the most consistently successful British division in the war, achieving every objective it was set, including the ones at the Battle of the Somme. Ivor Maxse was the best trainer of men and always the most prepared prior to battle. The welfare of the men was paramount to him, units were sent into battle aware of what was expected of them and able to react to changes of plan or circumstance.

My feeling is; that it’s a great opportunity to say something about the training of the K armies and how men were treated. Maxse treated them well; it might be good to have paintings of his quotes, alongside what the men said, dotted around the Redoubt, telling the story of Maxse, the 18th Division, East Kents and East Surreys.

I have emailed DWHPS and hope to meet with them to discuss ideas.

Below are some drawings that I am thinking of animating. I have permission of the King Own Museum to use their photographs and the Imperial War Museum to use footage.