During the Second World War, Vera Lynn had a worldwide hit with what almost became her signature tune, The White Cliffs of Dover. The assumption at the time was that it was a reference to Dover on England’s southeast coastline, which was the departing point for Spitfires and Lancasters as they launched bombing raids against Nazi Germany. The first sight they would see of the old country on their return would be the 350-feet high chalk cliffs.
But that assumption was wrong.
Lynn was born in Dover, Delaware as Vera Margaret Welch on 20 March, 1917.
Like many Doverians she is intensely proud of her city, the capital of Delaware. She’s particularly fond of the cliffs. While they only climb to about 15 feet, they are unique as Dame Vera Lynn DBE recently told BS Travel Guide:
Dame: When I was a child we would rush from school to meet up at the foot of the cliffs. Little Jimmy – yes the same one mentioned in the song – would bring his extra-long skipping rope and we would take turns trying to hook it onto a piece of rusted metal that thrust out from the top of the cliff face.
Once we latched it Over the White Cliffs of Dover, we would scurry up the side of the cliff, which appeared massive to us given we were just seven years old.
BS: We’re a travel site. Why would anyone want to visit a 15-foot bit of chalk wall?
Dame: Because Dover is just about to open its latest attraction right on the spot. Paracliff™ gives you the opportunity to jump up to the skies.
BS: But it’s a 15-foot jump.
Dame: That’s where you’re wrong young lady. You see, the cliff face was opened up and a massive fan was installed. As you jump downwards, the fan blows you back into the sky to a massive 125 feet. At that point a parachute opens and you glide gently back to earth.
All of the parachutes are blue finally making sense of my song’s lyric There’ll Be Blue Birds Over the White Cliffs of Dover.
The cliffs can be found just behind 27 Main Street, where Mrs. Cobbler offers a free afternoon tea for all those completing the death-defying jump.