There are so many wonderful sights to visit in and around London that it’s sometimes hard to decide where to go next. Recently we visited a spot that’s probably not on everyone’s must visit list, but maybe should be, especially if you are a WWII history buff.
The Churchill War Rooms are truly a snapshot of time. In 1939, as concerns of Germany’s aggression in Europe grew, England had the foresight to construct a safe location where they could coordinate their defensive efforts if/when they were forced into the war. They built these headquarters in the middle of London in a very conspicuous place. It just happened to be underground.
At the end of the World War II the “war rooms” were locked up and left as is. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that they were reopened for public visit. In 2005 an interactive museum focusing on Churchill’s life and accomplishments was attached to the war rooms. Together they are a source of great education regarding England’s efforts and determination during the war.
The “newest and most advanced” technology of the time is on display and reminds us of how far technology has come. Within these walls was a map room for tracking all military activities, a communications room with banks of phones and a descrambler machine, conference rooms, a radio-telephone link for communication with the United States, a fully functioning (although very small) kitchen, and sleeping quarters for Churchill, his wife and the staff. The quarters were cramped and the desks and sleeping areas now look so small.
The museum reminds us of the men and women who spent days and weeks below ground, not seeing the daylight, as England was bombed from above. In a truly life threatening situation they worked to save their country and eventually all of Europe. Churchill himself was said to have only spent three nights in these safe quarters. He prefered to work here during the day and return above to view bombing damage, presenting himself as a strong leader to instill confidence in the people.