CHURCHILL WAR ROOMS
The Churchill War Rooms are the secret bunker used by wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his Government during WW2 – they are a chilling reminder of Britain’s darkest days.
WW2 was the 20C’s defining event – a global war that involved more countries and took more lives than any other war in human history.
During the six bleak years of the war, hidden beneath the streets of London, a team of civil servants, government ministers and military strategists, led by Churchill, worked round the clock to prevent a German victory.
So let’s head beneath those streets. The first turn brings us to the War Cabinet Room, where many tense meetings were held. Smoke would fill the room as strained voices discussed Britain’s options, whilst above ground, bombs rained relentlessly down. Notice that the clock is set to 4.58pm – the time the first ever cabinet meeting was held on 15 October 1940.
In rooms running off the nearby corridors, a small army of secretaries and switchboard operators typed up memos or connected calls. Not allowed to tell anyone what they did, or to keep a diary, they worked long hours and had little or no social life.
The hub of the site – the Map Room – constantly buzzed with activity, not once were the lights switched off. Information came in from across the world to be charted on the various maps and reports. Take a closer look at those maps and you’ll see thousands of tiny pin pricks from the pins used to mark the progress of conveys across the oceans. A line of telephones in the centre of the room were a lifeline to other command posts around the capital.
Just further along, there’s a room with a secret door: behind it, Winston Churchill made top secret Transatlantic telephone calls to the President of the United States.
There is plenty more to discover: a small trap door with steps down to the ‘Dock’ where many of the staff slept, wartime graffiti of Adolf Hitler giving a cross-eyed salute and a sign in the corridors that gives coded messages to the staff.
Did you know?
- The women who worked in the War Rooms were escorted to the lavatories twice a day in groups.
- When Winston Churchill called President Roosevelt on the Transatlantic telephone line, the call would be put through by the operator with the words “Mr Smith wants to talk to Mr White.”
If you want to know more, you’ll have to book a tour.