“We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glow-worm.”

Winston Churchill was a larger-than-life character.

The museum was full of great Churchill quotes and political cartoons
The museum was full of great Churchill quotes and political cartoons

One of the photographs of London during the Blitz in the museum's collection
One of the photographs of London during the Blitz in the museum’s collection
As Prime Minister, his speeches during the Blitz and the rest of WWII demonstrated Britain’s resolve and courage to stand against the German onslaught, the first of Hitler’s opponents to do so successfully. Churchill’s fascinating War Rooms built to withstand the Blitz bombings are open to the public, and I toured them one afternoon last week. The War Rooms were the nerve center for Churchill’s government and war efforts, and they also tell quite a bit about the man himself. Indeed the attached museum is all about Churchill’s life and work.

Another great political cartoon from WWII.
Another great political cartoon from WWII.
It is clear that Churchill was a demanding, complicated boss, but given the circumstances and the stakes, everyone who worked for him considered it a privilege, at least the ones they interviewed for the museum. You can see his office and bedroom, the dedicated transatlantic phone on which he could call Roosevelt directly, Mrs. Churchill’s room when she decided to stay in the War Rooms, the rooms for his staff, the radio room, and his pride and joy: his Map Room. Apparently Churchill was a fan of afternoon naps and liked to lounge about in a velvet jumpsuit he called a siren suit of an evening. He also had high standards for food and an accommodating cook.

One of Churchill's siren suits
One of Churchill’s siren suits

Churchill's kitchen in the War Rooms
Churchill’s kitchen in the War Rooms
The museum starts with the war years, continues with the Cold War and then backtracks to Churchill’s early life until his election to PM. He was wholly focused on winning the war, no matter the cost. He actually lost the election in 1945 when the people of Britain voted in a Labour government over his Conservative one, in the hopes of ending the deprivations of the war years. He would be reelected in the 1950s. Overall, the War Rooms and museum provide an insightful sense of a complex historical figure.

The museum had this interactive display with journals and other information from every year of Churchill's life.
The museum had this interactive display with journals and other information from every year of Churchill’s life.
Title quote: Winston Churchill

Churchill Statue outside the Houses of Parliament
Churchill Statue outside the Houses of Parliament

Apparently Churchill insisted the secretaries use noiseless typewriters - he was sensitive to noise.
Apparently Churchill insisted the secretaries use noiseless typewriters – he was sensitive to noise.

This is the actual map Churchill used after the Yalta conference to identify who owned what in Germany after WWII.
This is the actual map Churchill used after the Yalta conference to identify who owned what in Germany after WWII.

Churchill's room
Churchill’s room

Parts of the Map Room
Parts of the Map Room

Another of the workspaces in the War Rooms
Another of the workspaces in the War Rooms

The radio room where someone would be on call at all hours.
The radio room where someone would be on call at all hours.

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