Churchill’s War Rooms

Although it’s been a good long time since I originally visited the Churchill War Rooms, no better time to write about then than the present, right?

The Churchill War Rooms are absolutely incredible.  If it wasn’t for the price of admission– 15 pounds, for students, in a city where all the museums are free!– I would go there practically every day, just as a little mental pep talk.  To hell with Britney surviving 2007— if Churchill, and the entirety of Great Britain, could survive 1940, any of us can probably make it through anything.

For those who don’t know, the Churchill War Rooms consist of the actual working rooms– and living quarters– of the Prime Minister and his staff during the Blitz, when the offices of Britain’s government functionally relocated to a connected series of bunkers underneath the treasury to survive the German onslaught.  The average viewer can actually just walk on in, taking a fairly detailed audio tour of the area where the magic happened– where, if World War II wasn’t won, it at least wasn’t lost.

Visiting the Churchill War Rooms was one of the first things I did when I came to London, so in a way it’s fitting that I’m just now writing about it, as I’m closer than not to leaving.  Everywhere in London, if you keep your eyes open, you see memorials to wars– some ancient, some less so.  It’s easy to forget that, as valuable a role as the U.S. played in World War II, the stakes for us– in Europe most of all- -weren’t incredibly high.  Even in the Pacific, the worst worst case scenario involved losing Hawaii and some valuable trading rights– our homeland, let alone our national survival, was never really at stake.  In Britain, that was most decidedly not the case.  There was a solid period of time where Britain, faced with a German opponent that had just conquered Poland and France, and was getting along famously with the USSR, was looking severely outgunned.  But Britain pulled through, in a way that few observers might have thought they would– in no small part thanks to the work of this guy.

The man, the legend.
The man, the legend.
You try setting national policy while these things are dropping right and left on your place of work!
You try setting crucial national policy while these things are dropping right and left on your place of work!
The actual war cabinet room.
The actual war cabinet room.
Because the bombing raids would frequently get so bad personel couldn't actual leave the bunkers, this sign was set up to let them know what the weather was topside. During heavy air raids, the sign was changed to "windy."
Because the bombing raids would frequently get so bad personel couldn’t actual leave the bunkers, this sign was set up to let them know what the weather was topside. During heavy air raids, the sign was changed to “windy.”
The todo list for Churchill's secretary from D-Day. Easily one of the coolest things I've seen in London to date.
The to-do list for Elizabeth Norman, who worked in Future Operations Planning, from D-Day. Easily one of the coolest things I’ve seen in London to date.
Churchill liked graphs.
Churchill liked graphs.
I guess when you're sleeping and eating maybe ten feet from where you're working, there's no such thing as bringing your work home, but still...
I guess when you’re sleeping and eating maybe ten feet from where you’re working, there’s no such thing as bringing your work home, but still…

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As a recent arrival in London, I found this juxtoposition to be...not inaccurate.
As a recent arrival in London, I found this juxtoposition to be…not inaccurate.
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