June 21, 1916
This is our busy week again; and I have not found time until now to write of my week at Dover. Skilling, Porter and I went off on Saturday afternoon and took the bus from Folkestone. It is a lovely ride up over the cliffs and the far is 6d. Dover is very different from Folkestone - very much nearer the war. To begin with,, two miles out the bus was stopped by the guard, and passes examined. You can't get into Dover - or out either - without giving an account of yourself. We spent most of the afternoon just wandering around the water-front, talking to sailors and looking at the boats. We were fortunate enough to get next to one very nice guard, who finally told us that if we came around six when he was relieved, he would show us over his destroyer. We beat it off to get something to eat, and then back to our friend. His boat is one of those that patrol the channel with Dunkirk as base, and they were just in for a day or two. We were shown all over the boat, investigated the guns and torpedo-tube, and best of all were invited down into the forward compartment where our friend & others have their abode. It is about eight feet wide at one end, narrowing towards the bows. Every inch is occupied with bunks and table & hammocks are hung over the latter. The sailors who occupied it we found as nice a lot of chaps as one could wish for, and keen on doing the honors as far as possible. They gave us each a big slab of ship's chocolate - not very palatable raw; but very nice boiled - and also some fine candles which we had admired. We left them regretfully with wishes for "good luck." By this time they are probably back on the Belgian coast. We saw also some of the new monitors with their great guns that have done such good work on the Belgian coast. By that time it was too late to see much more so we caught the bus back for Folkestone.
Sunday morning Skilling and I returned to Dover. We had been told that a special pass was necessary to get into the Castle; but we wanted to look around the outside at least, and we were not without hope that we might find a way in. We walked up through the beautiful Connaught Park & ate the lunch which we had provided for ourselves. Then we journeyed to the Castle, walked past the guard unchallenged, and wandered around till we came to the Keep. There is merit in a uniform at times. We accosted a young Tommy outside one of the barracks and asked him if there was no way of getting into the old castle proper. At first he thought not, but a little further conversation elicited the information that if we went back to the house opposite the canteen we would find the keeper and he might do something for us. We did so and to make a long story short we spent a couple of hours wandering through underground passages and looking at old masonry. There is one Roman Tower belonging to the first Century; but most of the castle is Saxon & Norman. The underground passages cut in the chalk were most interesting especially the traps for catching intruders and the devices for either dropping them onto iron spikes or subjecting them to showers of melted lead or red-hot sand. They had little mercy in those days. The castle only once underwent siege at the hands of the Dauphin of France. It was relieved through one of the underground passages which we saw, which in those days ran two miles back into the country. Another interesting thing was the marks of the bombs dropped in the last Zepplin raid about 9 weeks ago. A number of places about the castle were splattered with scars from the fragments. About thirty bombs were dropped but only one did material damage. It fell on a hut and killed three men, wounding several others. On the whole the inspection was well worth the shilling which it cost us. We got back to Folkestone in time for me to get to Cheriton Baptist Church - Skill stayed in F. to go to the Methodist church there.
Our course in musketry is progressing, though there is so much to learn that all we can do is master the principles, and trust to the future to attain proficiency. Next week we may be sent as sergeant instructors to various battalions, unless our commissions come through before then.
Love to all,