I just read your letter of 7 August in which you told me, dear, that you love me – and darned if I don’t love you just as much. It’s a wonderful feeling, too – darling – and I’m sure you know what I mean.
Well – our big VJ celebration fizzed out entirely. At the last minute it was decided that the town would be wild last nite and every officer except the medics went on patrol duty to keep the mischief down. And the same schedule applies for tonight. It makes little difference, really, sweetheart, because I’m fundamentally happy and relaxed over thoughts of our future which now seems closer and closer. Oh boy!! Nothing else for now, darling. Love to the family. I love you!
|Churchill in his War Cabinet bunker beneath the London streets|
During the Second World War, from 1 September 1939 until May 1945, London was under threat of air raid. Therefore, underground rooms with reinforced ceilings and walls were used from 1940 to mid-1945. In 1940, shortly after becoming Prime Minister, Churchill stood in the Cabinet War Room and declared, "This is the room from which I will direct the war."
The size of the underground bunker expanded as the war progressed, starting relatively small and growing to approximately 30,000 feet. Many rooms for different functions are housed here. These included communications rooms, a hospital, canteen, firing range and dormitories for several hundred staff.
|Churchill War Rooms sleeping quarters were down this hall|
When the bunker was closed down on 16 August 1945, many of the men and women working in the shelter cleaned off their desks, shut off the lights, and went home, never to return to the bunker. This meant that in a number of rooms, the furnishings and all the small details of life in the bunker during the war were kept intact. After the war the historic value of the Cabinet War Rooms was recognized. Their preservation became the responsibility of the Ministry of Works and later the Department for the Environment, during which time very limited numbers of the public were able to visit by appointment. In the early 1980s the Imperial War Museum was asked to take over the administration of the site. When reopened, everything was still in its original state, right down to the cigar butts in the ashtray. It's as if the war was over so everyone went down to the pub and forgot the place existed.
The Rooms were opened to the public by Margaret Thatcher on 4 April 1984, in a ceremony attended by Churchill family members and former Cabinet War Rooms staff. Following a major expansion in 2003, a suite of rooms used as accommodation by Churchill, his wife and close associates, was added to the museum. The restoration of these rooms, which since the war had been stripped out and used for storage, cost £7.5 million. In 2005 the War Rooms were re-branded as the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, with 850 square meters of the site redeveloped as a biographical museum exploring Churchill's life. In May 2010 the name of the museum was shortened to Churchill War Rooms. During 2009-2011 the museum received over 300,000 visitors a year.
During its operational life two of the Cabinet War Rooms were of particular importance. (These are shown in the video below.) Once operational, the facility's Map Room was in constant use and manned around the clock by officers of the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force. These officers were responsible for producing a daily intelligence summary for the King, Prime Minister and the military Chiefs of Staff.
|Map still on the wall (above) and its keys (below)|
The other major room was the Cabinet Room. Until the opening of the Battle of France, which began on 10 May 1940, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's war cabinet met at the War Rooms only once, in October 1939. Following Winston Churchill's appointment as Prime Minister, 115 Cabinet meetings were held at the Cabinet War Rooms, the last on 28 March 1945, when the German V-weapon bombing campaign came to an end.