Ever seeking more knowledge, some people say I am full of useless information, and my visit to the Churchill and Cabinet War Rooms in Central London, gave me the opportunity to learn more about one of the greatest leaders of British history, Winston Churchill (1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955).
The secret underground bunker which served as the Cabinet War Rooms in the Second World War, where the Chiefs of Staff and the Prime Minister worked continuously from 1939 to 1945.
Within the facilities, Winston Churchill, as well as other person holding high positions in the armed services, had his own bedroom, office and other amenities. There was a kitchen which catered for his eating requirements, and also a bedroom for his wife Clementine. To keep in touch with other world leaders but especially USA President Roosevelt, within Shefridges on Oxford Street, a special room called the Transatlantic Room was created, with a secure telephone/radio connection using a scrambler device called Sigsaly installed.
Sigsaly was 40 tons of equipment, shipped from the USA and installed in the basement of Shefridges on Oxford Street. Another Sigsaly was installed in the Pentagon in the USA, and it was said the scrambled signal generated was “almost” impenetrable. Having now learned of the secret decoding work by the British at Bletchley Park, I wonder if the Germans had broken Sigsaly.
Within the bunker of the Cabinet War Rooms, is a very large space which was partitioned off for use by various departments of the Chiefs of Staff and the War Cabinet during WWII, as since 2005 become the Churchill Museum.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace into the Spencer family on 30 November 1874, he came from a aristocratic family, his father being Lord Randolph Spencer-Churchill being the 7th Duke of Marlborough, his mother was an American.
Churchill was sent away to boarding schools, and had little contact with his parents despite his repeated requests for his mother to visit him. He was not a good student other than English and history, and his poor results could be attributed to him having dyslexia. Churchill also had a speech impediment, especially noticeable was his lisp, having difficulty pronouncing the letter “S” and, it has been said a stutter. All these problems did not deter Churchill, as he said, “My impediment is no hindrance“, and he became a great author and speech maker.
Despite having to take the entrance exam three times, he was accepted into the Royal Military Academy, better known as Sandhurst, to become an officer in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, using his family connections to be posted on active duties. It was from these campaigns that the public started to know him through his writings as a war correspondent, and writing his own books on the campaigns.
Throughout his life he was a world traveler, and in the military his campaigns to him to Cuba, India, Malakand (now Pakistan), Sudan and South Africa. He became First Lord of the Admiralty at the start of World War I.
His first try in politics in 1899 was in the English constituency of Oldham, where he stood for the seat to the British Parliament, and lost the vote. But, in the 1900 General Election he won his seat to Parliament in the same constituency of Oldham. In the 1906 General Election he had changed his political party from the Conservatives to the Liberals, and stood for the Manchester North West Constituency which again he won, only having the seat for two years, when he was elected as member of Parliament for Dundee. He became a high powered member of the Liberal Government, helping to pass many reforms.
During World War 1, Churchill again rejoined the military to fight, having the rank of Colonel in the Royal Scots Fusiliers but still being an MP (Member of Parliament).
In 1922 he lost his Dundee parliamentary seat, and despite standing for other constituencies, was not returned to Parliament until 1924 for Epping.
Throughout the following years, Churchill had many positions in the British Government, but also he feel out of favour sometimes, and had periods of obscurity. It was after the start of the Second World War, that Churchill again gained power being given the job of The First Lord of the Admiralty.
When the then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned due to the lack of confidence the county had in him in his handling of the outbreak of the war, Churchill was asked to become Prime Minister. 10 May 1940.
Throughout the Second World War, Churchill led the British nation with inspiration, his speeches were well thought out and rehearsed, that rallied the nation to fight on to the end. He formed good working relationships with other world leaders, Roosevelt, Truman, Stalin.
Some of Churchill’s greatest speeches contained now famous lines which rallied and inspired the embattled people of Britain and the world:-
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
At the end of WWII, the British people voted Churchill’s Government out of power in the 1945 election, and he would lead the opposition party until the General Election of 1951, he resigned in 1955.
All this history and more is on display in the Churchill Museum, along with his famous jump suits, his awards, his medals. They are displayed in such a way that it is as if one is having a personal tour. For example, his many famous speeches, which I have never appreciated before can be heard, by standing is one spot, the clever sound system delivers Churchill as if he is standing in front of you. You can sit and watch films and hear the commentary which hardly interferes with the other visitors.
Although as a young boy, not being old enough to have really experienced his leadership first hand, I remember vividly his State Funeral, not often given to commoners in the UK, after his death at the age of 90 on 24th January 1965. The whole nation stopped to view it on the TV’s. There, in the Churchill Museum were the same pictures, and I felt the emotion of the time once again, as tear welled up in my eyes.
Throughout his life Churchill wrote many books and articles. His speeches are orinspiring and are I have now found out, worth listening to for their content and construc
tion, In 1953 was award the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Here again there is a physical link back to the Bletchley Park in the 21 Century, for in one of the buildings is the Churchill Collect, a vast private collect of Churchill memorabilia. Winston Churchill visited Bletchley Park many time and said of the workers that they were :-
In my article “I am still learning more on history” I mentioned the Cabinet War Rooms in Central London.
My interest in visiting the Cabinet War Rooms came about by reading R.V. Jones book Most Secret War, because in his writing, Jones reported his various meetings in this secret underground bunker with the Chiefs of Staff and the Prime Minister of Great Britain during WWII, Winston Churchill. I wanted to verify the information he was giving, and experience what had taken place some 70 years previously. His whole writings seemed to imply he was the most important person in the Second World War apart from Churchill.
I was not to be disappointed in what I learnt and saw, although gained no reference or mention when asking guides to R.V. Jones having worked there.
Located near Horse Guards Parade, opposite St Jame’s Park, and under what is now The Treasury Building, it was decided in 1930’s, because of the impending war with Germany and the probability of aerial bombardment, to build a central emergency working space for the War Cabinet and Chiefs of Staff of the military. One week before the outbreak of the Second World War, on 27th August 1939, the secret bunker was opened, and was in continuous until the end of the war in 1945.
At the end of the war in 1945, staff left their desks, control rooms and living quarters and returned to their normal working places, leaving the secret underground bunker as is, to be used as stores. But in the late 1970’s the Imperial War Museum was tasked with preserving this historic site, and to open the site to the public. From 2005 this site was fully open and included the Churchill Museum dedicated to the life and work of this great British Prime Minister.
A new entrance was opened allowing public access to the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, the old access being in what is now The Treasury Building.
To protect the people working in the bunker, (it is stated that over 500 people worked at any one time in the facilities), extra wooden and steel girder reinforcements were built into the bunker, and a steel and concrete two-metre deep slab lain in the void above the bunker.
Among the many rooms and facilities is a room called the Map Room, it is said to be in the same state as it was left in 1945, with the original maps on the walls. One wall shows the Atlantic Ocean, and was used to chart the progress of the merchant shipping, more often being in convoys, still showing the tiny pin holes marking the ships positions. This room was staffed 24 hours a day by officers of the navy, army and airforce, to keep track of the war.
A link from the Cabinet War Rooms Map Room was back to another famed wartime site I have visited, The Battle of Britain Operations Room, at RAF Uxbridge. (click to see article). It was from this Ops room, that information would be fed to the Cabinet War Rooms. as can be seen by a board giving details of flights during the Battle of Britain.
Links would also be to other war time facilities, including Bletchley Park. The German encrypted messages made on the Enigma Machine would be decoded in Bletchley Park, which helped the Navy plan and fight the Battle of the Atlantic, against the German naval fleet and submarines.
The museum also contains as stated the Churchill Museum, more on that later.
I spent about four hours in the Cabinet War Rooms, so I was somewhat hungry and thirsty, and had an English Afternoon Tea, in the Switchroom Café. Finger sandwiches, (I eat one before taking this picture), made of cheese and cucumber and smoked salmon, a cup of English Breakfast tea with milk, and a piece of cake just like my mother used to make, with strawberry and cream filling, not like mass made factory cake. Paradise.
English Afternoon Tea in the Switchroom, Cabinet War Rooms.
As the Turkish people are so passionate about Ataturk, I have made a little research on his history. I am sure I have not covered everything, please excuse me if I have made any mistakes, assumptions, missed anything out. Please add notes to this entry to correct my ignorance, and educate me on the history.
In 1881 Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was born. In 1893 he enters Military Secondary School at Salonika, and over the next years he progresses through various military schools ending-up in 1905 graduating from the General Staff College with the rank of Staff Captain and is posted to the Fifth Army, based in Damascus.
In 1906 he helps to found Fatherland (Vatan) Society in Damascus. There was trouble in the country a Counter-revolution in Istanbul, and in 1909 Ataturk as divisional chief of staff, marches with Union and Progress striking force on the city from Salonika. By 1911 he has been promoted to Major, and he serves with the Ottoman Empire army against Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. During this time many treaties were made, and it seemed broken, which resulted in Russia, Britain and France declaring war against the Ottoman Empire, in 1914.
Thoughout this campaign the Allies lost many battles, the Dardanelles, the Turkish Straits, Canakkale, the Gallipoli Peninsula, Bitlis and Muş, etc, and the Ottoman Empire lost battles and campaigns to, being forced out of Palestine and Syria, resulting on 30 October 1918, an Armistice being signed between Ottomans and Britain at Mudros. Ataturk had risen to the Rank of Commander.
Between then and 1923, many battles were fought, lost and won, especially against the Greeks in Izmir and Inonu, Sakarya, and many treaties where made, with Ataturk being given the title of “Gazi”and rank of Marshal by Grand National Assembly.
On the 24th July 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed in Switzerland by Turkey and the Entente powers that fought in World War I. After the conclusion of the Turkish War of Independence, this treaty recognized the Republic of Turkey as a sovereign nation.
On 9th October, Ankara becomes capital of Turkey. Then on the 29th October, the Proclamation of the Turkish Republic was made, with Ataturk as President. This resulted in the Ottoman dynasty being exiled.
Various radical changes were made, including the closing of religious schools, and organized Islam becoming regulated by the state, the abolition of religious courts, the abolition of fez, suppression of religious brotherhoods, and the closing of sacred tombs as places of worship, and the introduction of the Latin alphabet.
Ataturk died in 1938, having change a nation into Turkey as we know it today.
His picture, his statues, his images are every where.
The people still look up to him.
It is still cold and raining here in Istanbul, with the high cold wind making “white horses” on the Bosphorus.
The TV crew arrived nearly two hours late, to film only a few minutes, I am very careful on what I say. A few months ago, an article appeared in a Turkish national magazine, which although not mentioning names, implied me as a trainer of NLP and a hypnotist could walk into a bank and robe them of their money.
Why am I so poor?
Also, they implied that women were easy pickings for me, so be careful. At 95, I do not have the energy to do such things, plus certain persons would murder me, and I do not like pain.
Some four years ago, I was approached by a TV production company. They asked if I could teach someone with no knowledge of hypnosis within two days to become a stage hypnotist (see http://www.c4stagehypnosis.com), and on the second night, that person would perform in front of a live audience a stage hypnosis show. Not only did I do it, but along with another twelve people. The course has been held twice a year since, producing many successful hypnotists.
Although I asked the TV production company what was the outcome they wanted from the program regarding stage hypnosis, the good points or the bad, they said an unbiased view. The program was broadcast with the title The Darker Side of Stage Hypnosis. With nearly twenty hours of filming captured, less than ten minutes was shown.
By editing, showing what is good for them, the press can bias the news to suit themselves. How was it that during the Gulf War, the British was for the invasions, yet that little stretch of water called the English Chanel gave the French a different view of being against the war. We are brainwashed.
So I was very careful what was said. Let us see the outcome next Sunday at 10am on Turkish Expo TV.