An officer moves pieces on a planning board.

Operation Dynamo: Rescue from Dunkirk

Immerse yourself in the drama of the Dunkirk evacuation of May 1940, in the very tunnels where the operation - codenamed 'Dynamo' - was masterminded.

Walk through the tunnels deep beneath the castle as state-of-the-art special effects, dramatic projections and real film footage bring this dramatic rescue operation to life.

Bringing them home

Join James Blincow and Rowena Willard-Wright as they head deep below Dover Castle into the same tunnels where the incredible rescue operation of 1940 was masterminded.

Plan Your Visit
Pieces on a map plotting board.

Ramsay's Miracle Rescue

Imagine working day and night deep inside Dover Castle's top secret tunnels as war raged outside, in a desperate bid to rescue the troops stranded at Dunkirk as German forces closed in.

This life or death battle against time was won in just ten short days in 1940, when Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay pulled off a miracle. With no technology and with pitiful resources he masterminded the rescue of 338,000 troops from his Naval HQ in the tunnels below the castle. Vice Admiral Ramsay, is the unsung hero whose brilliant organisational skills pulled off the greatest rescue in our history.

Operation Dynamo: Rescue from Dunkirk uses original news-reels and recordings, testimonies from veterans and dramatic special effects to recreate the terror and tension of these dark days of Second World War.

A family tours the tunnels at Dover Castle

Tour the Tunnels

The urgency and drama unfolds as you explore the tunnels in small groups on self-guided tours. The tours are 'pulsed' so that you have the space to fully appreciate this immersive experience.

Spitfires screech overhead and the boom, boom of anti-aircraft guns resonate while you feel the danger and desperation in the cramped tunnels. Vivid sets and original film give a graphic account of the horror of the French beaches under fierce enemy fire. It was here that Ramsay plotted and planned his brilliant operation, issuing the orders and making the decisions that saved so many lives.

The tour continues through some of the original rooms of the adjacent Army HQ. Dressed as they were throughout Second World War, they include the Gun Operations Room, Telephone Exchange, Repeater Station (communications room) and Coast Artillery Operations Room.

Why not relax in the Secret Wartime Tunnels café after your Dunkirk adventure? Recover with homemade sandwiches, hot stews and afternoon teas.

People examine the costumes from the new Dunkirk Movie

Dunkirk up Close

The Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk was released in UK cinemas 21 July 2017.

This greatest rescue of all time was masterminded right here, deep within Dover’s secret wartime tunnels. You can see how the tide turned in Dunkirk for yourselves by taking an Operation Dynamo tour.

In Summer of 2017, Warner Bros kindly loaned English Heritage the actual costumes worn by Fion Whithead (Tommy), Harry Styles (Alex) and Kenneth Branagh (Commander Bolton), and we were able to put them on display at the tunnels.

If you've seen the film, walk in the steps of Vice Admiral Ramsey through the actual former secret naval headquarters where Dunkirk was coordinated.

The secret wartime tunnels at Dover Castle

Wartime Tunnels Uncovered Exhibition

For over 200 years the tunnels have provided shelter, safety and secrecy to those defending our shores. Delve deeper into the history of the tunnels, from Napoleonic times right up to the Cold War in this exhibition. Artefacts, interactives, real life stories, striking images and original wartime film footage are all used to trace the history of the tunnels across the centuries.

From a diary entry describing the dangers of tunnel life during the Napoleonic Wars, to the uniform of a private soldier in First World War, objects on display also provide a personal snapshot of life underground. Poignantly, they include a box of fragments from Nagaskai and Hiroshima, which represent the era when the tunnels were a Regional Seat of Government in the event of nuclear war.

Explore the whole tunnel complex with our virtual tour - including rooms that aren't open to the public.

Discover the story behind the Dunkirk evacuation of May 1940, partly through the voices of those who lived through it. See historical footage of action in Dover Harbour and Straits shot from the White Cliffs, and then look out from the tunnels to see a near-identical view today.

Plan Your Visit

Interviewing a Dunkirk Veteran

We meet former Army Signalman and Operation Dynamo veteran Richard Sheen, now 98, at his home in West Wales
to discover the true story of the Dunkirk Rescue that was masterminded from the secret war tunnels deep below Dover
Castle.

Between 1939 and 1942, Richard Sheen was billeted to Dover, where he used radar to plot enemy aircraft crossing the Channel, and communicated their positions to anti-aircraft batteries along the coast. In this interview he reveals what life was like in Dover’s Gun Control Room, his experiences of helping the rescued soldiers off the ships and why Operation Dynamo was a turning point in the war effort.

All archive footage supplied by Huntley Film Archives Ltd.

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