Britain suffered greatly during the years of World War 2. Two exhibits I saw in London really brought this fact home. The first is "The War Rooms." But before I show you my pictures in the War Rooms, I have a few others I took that day. It was the opening of Parliament, and the queen would be coming to address the members, so there was a lot of security on the streets, and some marching military units. Here they are.
During World War 2, the British government moved underground for protection from the German bombing of London. Construction of the underground complex began in 1938, and was completed the following year. (Britain was not yet at war, but events in Europe left little doubt that war was imminent.) For six years, beginning in 1940, Churchill directed the war from the "Cabinet War Rooms" you will see in my photos. These historical rooms were sealed in August, 1945. Fortunately, much of the original furnishings were left in place, making restoration easier. It was in 1981 that the British government decided to restore the rooms and make them accessible to the public. The process took three years, and several rooms were only restored a few years ago.
The site chosen was under the Office of Works building, which was located in the government district of London. Thick concrete walls and ceiling were added. In the photos, you will see wax figures representing the people who worked here. Most of the pictures don't need an explanation. A few are a bit out of focus (everything is behind glass). In the first photo, Churchill's seat is the larger wooden chair with the rounded back You may not be able to read the placard on the table in the fourth photo. It says "Prime Minister's Dining Room." The next picture is Mrs. Churchill's bedroom.
This picture is my favorite. It depicts Churchill on the phone to President Truman. This bare little room was the only one in the complex that had a secure phone line. The electronic equipment needed to encrypt the conversation required an entire nearby room.
At another time, I traveled several miles across town to visit a fascinating exhibit called "London at War." This exhibit showed the war's effect on civilians in London. Here are some photos I took. The first picture is of children being sent out of the city for their safety after bombs began falling on London. This display of wax figures reminded me of the early scenes in the movie "Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Then, a fire warden - how effective could a bucket of water and a hand pump be? The next two pictures show a radio room and short-wave equipment, with individual receivers tuned to the major wartime capitals. Finally, the ladies fashion of the day.
These last war related photos have a very special meaning to me. My dad's youngest brother, Tom, was stationed in England during World War ll. He was killed in action in early 1944. In St. Paul's Cathedral is a chapel behind the main altar dedicated to the Americans stationed here who died during the war. Their names are inscribed in a book kept under glass in the chapel. One page is turned every day. Here is the cover and second page of that book and a portion of the page where Uncle Tom's name is shown. I am extremely grateful to the church warden who made it possible for me to take these pictures.