Wednesday, 22 July 2009


My wife and I recently had a weekend break in London and needed to decide which attraction to visit.

We both have a long-standing fascination with World War 2 because it was such a huge event in our parents' lives (Dad helped build Lancaster bombers and my father-in-law was a tank gunner). On a previous visit we had been to the Imperial war museum and were spellbound by the Holocaust exhibition. This time we decided to visit the Cabinet war rooms. These were the offices from which Churchill and his Chiefs of Staff directed our war effort.

Naturally, these rooms were situated underground. In fact they were in the basement storage rooms of the Office of Works in Whitehall. However they were anything but secure! The idea that this complex was Churchill's bunker has been de-bunked (good stuff this!). A letter displayed on the wall shows Churchill's displeasure on learning that this suite of rooms were not bomb-proof. This may explain why rather than risk being buried alive, Churchill was often to be found on the roof during air raids watching the Luftwaffe in action. In fact he only used his basement bedroom to sleep in on three occasions during the entire war.

As we toured the various small offices, bedrooms, kitchen and other facilities, I became full of admiration for the officers and especially for their support staff who usually worked 14 hour shifts down there. They saw the surface so rarely that notices were displayed to tell them what the weather was like overhead. Many of them also had to use sun lamps to keep their health up.

Working in those cramped underground conditions must have been appalling. I have nothing but admiration for them all.

I would thoroughly recommend you visit these rooms which will give you a feeling for the bravery of those individuals who supported Churchill's wartime leadership in very dismal and dangerous conditions. Admission also includes the adjacent Churchill museum which is equally fascinating.


  1. Hello Tony,
    One day I will cross the pond and tour the UK.
    The Cabinet War Rooms sound like an interesting bit of military history!
    Thanks for the share.
    Tweet ya later.

  2. My father served in Berlin in WWII and my mum worked for the MOD - when I think of them and their peers I realise that they gave their youth and in many ways their innocence now war is played out on the internet breath by breath almost. I remember being moved in Arlington at Kennedy's grave - Not JFK but Robert the simplicity of the white cross said more than the pomp and circumstance ever could.