”Never was so much owed by so many to so few”. Winston Churchill – The Prime Minister
2010 marks the 70th anniversary of The Battle of Britain – the Battle fought over Britain the summer of 1940, generally agreed to be between the 10th July and 31st October 1940. On 28th August 2010, a Hurricane and Spitfire flew over parts of England and the English channel, that saw some of the fiercest aerial combats, on a commemorative flight alongside an Airbus A320, as part of the Battle of Britain 70th anniversary celebrations. Fourteen Battle of Britain veterans took to the skies in this special memorial flight accompanied for part of the way by a Spitfire and Hurricane from the period. The battle for air supremacy, involving 71 Fighter Command squadrons and allies from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and across Europe, between the RAF and the Luftwaffe in 1940 was a decisive chapter in WW2.
Last week, while I was on walkabout through London, part of my journey took me past the Churchill War Rooms, situated off Horse Guards Parade, between King Charles Street and Parliament Square. Today the Churchill War Rooms, are an outstanding place to explore life on the home front, as you wander through the Cabinet War Rooms which operated round the clock from the beginning of the war in 1939 to its end in August 1945.
I was thrilled to see a replica Spitfire Mk1 outside on the pavement. (I was also dismayed to discover that the day after my visit they hosted an anniversary event! if I had but known……..) However, at the time I did not, so with that depressing knowledge still in the future, I made my way downstairs to have a quick peek. I did not go on the tour this time around as my time was limited, but from what I did see….it looks awesome….I will be back. While I was underground I saw this photo hanging on the wall… one of the most endearing and iconic photos of the war.
I spent a few more minutes looking around and then made my way back aboveground and into the present, where I enjoyed some time admiring and photographing the Spitfire.
On the same pavement area and just a few feet away is this heart-breakingly beautiful memorial to the 202 people who lost their lives in the October 12th, 2002 Bali bombing. It is greatly upsetting to see the ages of the victims, as young as 18 years.
This is one of the traits of Britain that I truly love…… the memorials that dot the city and the country; memorials to people who lost their lives in acts of terrorism or acts of nature and accidents. Lest we forget………….
The Churchill War Rooms can be found just off King Charles Street between Horse Guards Parade and Parliament Street.
The Old War Office, a magnificent building designed in the baroque style, served as the centre of all military affairs in the British empire between the late 18th Century and 1963, the decisions made in this building completely changed the world forever, painting a 3rd of the world pink, then eventually creating the commonwealth and dismantling the empire.
It was from these rooms that the First World War battles were masterminded and the Second World War was won. (and no it’s not an illusion, the buildings do appear to be lopsided…they are not…it’s my photo! I have no idea why, perhaps coz I took it while in a hurry).
nearest tube station: Westminster – Jubilee Line
Churchill War Rooms, Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AQ
Open daily 9.30am – 6.00pm – last admission 5.oopm (closed 24, 25 and 26 December) There is an entrance fee.