Ria Carpenter
14th May 2024

Kent is steeped in rich, fascinating military history, making it a place of deep interest for visitors and experts alike. From strolling around towns that have stood guard of the Kent Coast during times of conflict, to exploring Britain's most-famous RAF fighter station, there are plenty of tales to tell around our charming county. With harbours that set out ships to rescue soldiers from Dunkirk beach, air raid tunnels, RAF air crafts on display in museums and the hometowns of some of the most noble men involved in the wars, Kent's captivating military history is waiting to be uncovered...

6th June 2024 is the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the perfect chance to take a read and find out about Kent's rich military history history. 

Biggin Hill Memorial Museum

The Biggin Hill Memorial Museum holds plenty of stories as Britain’s most famous fighter station. The museum and their online collection tells the stories of the brave soldiers who served at Biggin Hill and the community that supported them during the Second World War. The journey began 100 years ago when the site was just farmland, becoming the most important airfield in the battle of Britain shortly after. 

Royal Engineers Museum

The museum tells the story of the Royal Engineers and how they helped support the British Army for over 300 years. The Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham exhibits artefacts all throughout history. With highlights including Wellington's map from Waterloo, a huge V2 rocket, a Harrier Jump Jet and much more, it’s no surprise that this wonderful collection has been designated as holding historical and international importance. The museum even holds a piece of the Berlin Wall, the largest canvas in the world, used as means for protest and as a symbol for peace. 

Military History in and around Maidstone

Maidstone and the surrounding towns hold a rich heritage. The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regimental Museum tells the story of Maidstone’s local regiment from 1756 to 1961. The unit was involved in many of the British Army’s campaigns in both the 18th and 19th Century and, the First and Second World Wars, making it of interest to visitors, locals and experts alike. While The Lashenden Air Warfare Museum, exhibits a variety of air warfare, memorabilia and aircraft used since the start of RAF aviation. 

Military History in the Isle of Thanet

Standing guard of the East Kent coast, the district of Thanet has played a huge part in Kent’s fascinating military history and offers many tales to tell. The Ramsgate Tunnels unravels the story of how a hidden underground city developed into the only Civilian Deep Shelter Air Raid Precaution Scheme authorised by Central Government. While the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum displays iconic RAF fighter planes of the Second World War which are displayed under one roof, plus a Spitfire Simulator, and new this year, a Lancaster Experience Flight, which will transport you to the cockpit of an Avro Lancaster. The RAF Manston History Museum in another must-visit, with aircraft and exhibits which showcase the history of the airfield from 1916 to the present day. The Sundowner docked in Ramsgate harbour, was involved in the biggest evacuation mission of the Second World War, 'Dunkirk'. Find out more here about The Isle of Thanet on the Frontline…

Military History in Royal Tunbridge Wells

At the entrance of award-winning park Calverley Grounds is a monument to Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, Commander and Chief of RAF Fighter Command from 1936-1940. Credited with winning the Battle of Britain, he lived and retired to Tunbridge Wells until his death in 1970. Along the Heritage Walking Trail there are 14 commemorative plaques which were placed to play tribute to the towns historic noble figures, including the plaque on Lord Dowding's former residence in Calverley Parkland. 

Dover Castle

As the very spot where Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk, was meticulously planned, not to mention the Great Tower, which was first built as a mighty fortress on top of the White Cliffs under commission of Henry II, Dover Castle’s military history is rich and varied. Discover the immersive exhibition in the secret wartime tunnels which paints the picture of the tensions of the Dunkirk evacuation, plus the drama of the Second World War hospital, or why not take on the challenge of the The Bunker Escape Room, inspired by the castle’s Cold War history? Travel by public transport and you could enjoy a 20% discount on entry with Good Journey.

Battle of Britain Memorial


The story of the Battle of Britain is brought to life at the clifftop memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, near Folkestone, set up to honour Churchill’s ‘Few’ who saw off the Luftwaffe in 1940 and kept this country free from invasion. This atmospheric space is home to the National Memorial to the Few and the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall, while the modern Wing visitor centre houses The Scramble Experience, a hands-on audio-visual introduction to the Battle that changed history. A shop, first floor café with unbeatable views and replica aircraft add to the attraction. 

Historic Dockyard Chatham

On 29th June The Historic Dockyard Chatham will be proud to host Armed Forces Day, a tribute to the men and women who have served the country. As every corner of the Dockyard tells of its maritime history, it’s the perfect spot for the colourful parades, displays, bands and more that will celebrate the bravery of those who have served. What’s more, on 14th – 15th September the Dockyard will once again throw the ultimate celebration of the Salute to the 40s festival, a weekend of 40s nostalgia, music, classic cars, military vehicles, re-enactments and displays. Celebrate at the Dockyard in the year they mark the 40th anniversary of its closure as a working dockyard and honour the fascinating maritime history that has left its mark on the site.


The smell of the sea carries across the six or so miles from the Channel into Gusbourne's vineyards. On days of north-westerly wind, it's noticeable on the nose. Between Gusbourne and the sea, there's plenty for the visitor to note. From the route of the Royal Military Canal to the scattered emplacements of Martello towers, the area speaks of defence against invasion from Napoleonic times to WWII. Running from Hythe to Dungeness, the 13-mile, 15-inch gauge Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway built in 1927 was requisitioned during the war for Operation Pluto to carry fuel for the D-Day landings. It has now of course reopened to the public with rides running through eight stations. Take a walk along the Royal Military Canal and stop off at Gusbourne for a glass on your way.

D-Day Commemoration Concert at Canterbury Cathedral

On Saturday 15 June The Central Band of the Royal British Legion will be welcomed back to Canterbury Cathedral for a special concert to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. Raising money for charity, the concert will include old favourites from Dame Vera Lynn, including White Cliffs of Dover, Wish Me Luck and We’ll Meet Again. Book tickets for this spectacular celebration in the hallowed halls of Canterbury Cathedral. What’s more, on 6th June Canterbury Cathedral will be organising mini talks throughout the day, delivered by knowledgeable experts. Each talk will tell of how Canterbury Cathedral fared in WWII, the brave firewatchers who saved the Cathedral from bombing and how the Cathedral celebrated post-war peace and salvation in stained glass.

Make a break of it

When visiting Kent’s rich historic sites and witnessing its lengthy military history, it makes sense to make a break of it one of the county’s historic cottages. Book in with Keepers Cottages and you’ll find a cosy welcome with the likes of The Green House, which sleeps six in a historic, eco-conscious home just a pebble’s throw from Deal’s pier and independent shops. Stay at Star Cottage in Whitstable which can host up to four people in its pretty, colourful rooms. Or check in at Nomad House in Ramsgate, which sleeps six in a tranquil home in the heart of Ramsgate’s conservation area.

Eastchurch Aviation Museum

Telling the rich heritage of the South East’s aviation history, Eastchurch Avaition Museum is part of a brand new heritage trail, which features 17 historic sites covering history through the Cold War and beyond. Many sites are located at airfields used by RAF Fighter Command 11 Group, a section of the RAF formed in 1936 to provide air defense in the run up to the Second World War.

Ashford Tank

Although Ashford has developed over the years, the Mark IV WWI tank stands proudly amongst our modernising world. Located in St. Georges square, the historical relic has stood here for almost one hundred years, providing an interesting story to visitors. The tank was presented to the town in commemoration of Ashford’s fundraising efforts to the National War Savings and, it’s the only one of its type to be on public outdoor display.