Monday, November 29, 2010

Churchill War Rooms

I came home from London with a pile of books to read, and I've just read the first one in the stack, From Churchill's War Rooms: Letters of a Secretary 1943-45 by Joanna Moody. I picked it up in the gift shop at one of my favorite London places: the Churchill War Rooms.

The museum is located very close to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, 10 Downing Street, Parliament and other British government buildings. Yet, during World War II, Churchill and many other government and military personnel hid out here, strategizing and planning for victory. The underground rooms have been left nearly as they were when the war ended in 1945. I was truly fascinated by this museum and all that took place here during those crucial years.

The Churchill War Rooms is located across the street from Saint James Park, which is just gorgeous, and from the museum and many places in the park, you can see Buckingham Palace (see above).

Letters of a Secretary caught my eye in the gift shop, and I've just finished reading it today. It's a conglomeration of historical information that supplements the letters back and forth between Olive Christopher, who was General Hollis' secretary, and her army officer fiance, Neil Margerison. The letters give great detail to what it was like to be a British citizen and working for the country during the war. Though, understandably, many top secret details are omitted, the letters do still offer great detail about travel abroad, the shortage of nylon stockings and fabric for making clothes, and many other day-to-day details. Lucky for us all, Neil and Olive enjoyed a happy marriage after the war ended, and Olive was consulted in the 1980s when the War Rooms were being readied for public eyes.

This was a very satisfying read, and I'm now passing it on to my dad. I'm still on the lookout, though, for a nonfiction account of what it was like to live and work as a regular citizen in London during World War II. If you know of something good, let me know.

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