Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Margate and Dunkirk

During the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 over 50,000 troops were landed at Margate. The vast majority were landed at Margate Jetty and all had to walk the length of the Jetty to reach the shore at the Jetty entrance. At the Jetty entrance the first troops to arrive handed over any equipment like guns and ammunition they brought back with them. The handing over of equipment was soon to cause congestion on the Jetty and it was soon realised that the large numbers of troops landing and queing were being exposed to enemy air attack. To give a clear path off the Jetty some of the returned items were thrown over the side to keep the Jetty clear and the troops were then allowed to walk off the Jetty without handing over equipment. The items that were thrown over the side were abandond and remained forgotten until they were rediscovered in the 1980's.

It was winter gales following the construction of the breakwater on the Jetty entrance site in 1985/86 that large areas of sand disappeared. This exposed the stumps of the piles of the demolished Jetty entrance which then became ideal ground for mudlark digging. It was hard digging at first because of the iron concretion, but once that layer was out of the way coins were turning up every time the ground was turned over. Many of the coins were Victorian with a few George III and IV. However, digging further out from the piles all this 1930's ammunition started turning up. Most of it was French and British, we even dug up a revolver and we were puzzled by its origin as it was concentrated in a few areas. We tried every avenue to try and find out the origins of our discovery and drew a blank, it was a few weeks later after the discovery while having a conversation with Alf Manning about the discovery that Alf told us the story of what actually happened. We were amazed, but unfortunately by then the sand had recovered the search area and the rest remained buried.

Above is a rough sketch of the area with the position of the Droit House included, the two pairs of five dots that make an X if joined together represent the stumps of the Jetty entrance. The small cross's are the areas were the ammunition was found.Even though we filled up builders buckets with the stuff we did not entirely clear the area and the remaining ammunition still remains buried today.


Jeremy Jacobs said...

The plaque on the wall of Droit House says 46,000 troops landed at Margate.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Any idea when the last time it was cleaned as it is in a sorry state sadly neglected on a TDC owned building.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Up until the 1980's an old lady would clean the Droit House plaque and it was kept in pristine condition. Around this time of year she would put a small posie of flowers beneath it, but this all stopped when she died and the plaque became neglected.

Anonymous said...

Slightly off topic but I was reading Dangerous Coastline 1939-1945 by Derek S Hart the other day about this guy's wartime experiences as a child in Birchington. In it he says that one evening his parents were told by a Constable to pack a bag for evacuation as the invasion was underway. They were later stood down but looking over later that evening to Pegwell and Sandwich Bays an orange glow lit up the evening sky. He states his parents heard in the following weeks that a german invasion had been attempted on the Sandwich Flats and oil released into the sea and set alight (sounds like the legend at Shingle Street, Essex). He says his father heard later there were dead Germans caught on barbed wire for weeks along the shore as no one could get to them due to a high density of landmines. I know this is probably legend but it would be very interesting if anyone else ever heard this rumour or even witnessed anything!

Tony Beachcomber said...

The only thing I have ever heard on the subject, is that bait diggers on the Sandwich Bay side of the River mouth found some badly corroded German Helmets on the extreme low water mark in the 70's.