Article by Geoff Moore
Time travelling back 73 years was the impression I had when I visited the Churchill Cabinet War Rooms in London.
Being allowed to walk around inside the sealed glass rooms of the museum in Whitehall has been an amazing experience.
Even the smell within them is different. Every item on display was as they were left back in 1945 on the day Japan surrendered.
The key moment for the Allies and Churchill was probably D-Day and it was in those rooms deep under London that history was made, planned and recorded.
Being there many years after the event and knowing the momentous decisions that Churchill and military bosses faced in that plain brick and steel lined room was thought provoking.
It’s not often that such chance’s of experiencing a place in its time with most of your senses is possible. The smell and atmosphere of the cellar complex back in the 1940’s would have been similar to what I was experiencing today.
War meetings chaired in these very rooms
Churchill as then Prime Minister and Defence Minister was chairing meetings in this very room. How special was that? Thus giving me an understanding and perspective that no book or photo could ever do.
Although visitors to the museum will not be so lucky but still getting up close if from the other side of the glass and looking into these special rooms gives you the next best experience.
New film ‘Churchill’
The new film ‘Churchill’ will no doubt add to hugely to the visitor numbers over the coming months.
Churchill played by Brian Cox and Miranda Richardson playing his seemingly suffering wife Clemmie bring to the screen an interpretation of a couple who were very much at the centre of a critical moment for Great Britain during World War II.
Cox was at times irritable and short-tempered in his role as Winston Spencer Churchill balanced by his observant and honest foil life partner and true love Clementine.
With his vast experience of military life and war service from numerous past campaigns Churchill was also thoughtful about the risk his soldiers could face on D-Day. He struggled personally and felt responsible to have to send much of the nation’s youth of early 1940’s into action; that could be as bloody as the trench conflict of the earlier World War he knew very well.
His experience of those conflicts was driving his disquiet over this issue with the commanding Generals that were planning the massive June 6th assault. At times fervently at odds with them but in the end knowing that the time had come.
It’s an insight into a person who has been written about as being the greatest of Great Britain’s.
Although now some 73 years into the past, Churchill and his wartime speeches have been accepted as some of the best of all time with heart-warming inspiration and motivation helping to drive a nation and its people through to the eventual victory.
The film portrayed Churchill not as perfect man but as we know, we all have faults and moods that affect us in all areas of our lives. However in the end his stature as an exceptional leader during those 5 years was a success.
If you are expecting blood, guts and action to run alongside the plot then this is not the case. It’s a much more a thought provoking insight into a man who led, cared and fought for his countrymen at that time in June 1944.
However, without a rifle and bayonet on the beaches of Normandy but with his charisma and political leadership which were his weapons, which in the end was probably his greatest ever decision.
You can read more of Geoff’s travel features at thetraveltrunk