It’s pretty shocking that up until April of this year, I’d been to England eight times over ten years and yet had never visited the Churchill War Rooms. Given that this subterranean complex was so integral to England’s war effort, I can’t believe I never visited it– so on my last trip, I made sure that it was one attraction I could not miss.
The War Rooms are controlled by the Imperial War Museum, which I think is one of the best museum organizations in the world! IWM attractions are always very informative and well put-together, and there are things to entertain adults and children alike. I enjoyed the Churchill War Rooms immensely; because they are a relic of Britain’s wartime resolve, and they pay tribute to one of the greatest statesmen and most fascinating characters in modern history: Sir Winston Churchill.
A portrait of Churchill was one of the sole adornments on this corridor’s wall
One of the fixtures of the War Rooms is a large hall which displays various artifacts pertaining to the history of World War II and to Britain’s beloved wartime leader. Some of these displays were interactive and all were very interesting; but I enjoyed examining the simple static objects best. One such object was an example of the German’s famous Enigma machine, which created what Germany believed to be unbreakable ciphers during the first part of the war.
The four silver rotors at the rear of the Enigma machine were effectively what created the cipher.
The Anglo-German Declaration, signed by both Hitler and Neville Chamberlain. A true piece of history
As I moved through the exhibit, I also got a glimpse at the amazing life of Churchill. Regardless of whether one admires his personality or his politics, it must be said that Sir Winston was an extraordinarily accomplished man. I personally do admire him for his conviction and his leadership during the wartime years, and learning more about him at the War Rooms was really inspirational.
Churchill’s greatcoat; similar to the one he wore in the famous photograph of the 1945 Yalta Conference
One of Churchill’s many accomplishments was a Nobel Prize for Literature; received in 1953
I can usually be expected to go teary-eyed at a war museum, and my visit here wasn’t unusual in that respect! The object that evoked the most emotion for me was, at first glance, a carefully-folded Union flag. But this flag was special– it was the flag that was draped over Churchill’s coffin after his death in 1965. For me, this flag was really a symbol not only of one man’s unforgettable legacy, but also of the merits of the Great Britain I love so much. Even prior to visiting the War Rooms, one of my favourite Youtube videos (and one of the only ones guaranteed to make me cry) was one featuring footage of Churchill’s funeral procession. You can watch it here; and I highly recommend that you do, because it shows the love and admiration that ordinary Britons held for Churchill even two decades after his greatest success.
The flag that Churchill served throughout his life, and which accompanied him on his journey to the next.
What I loved about the Churchill War Rooms was that they focused on Churchill himself as much as they did on their wartime operations. They were much more than a dark set of spartan corridors, and they gave me a better understanding of both World War II and one of Britain’s greatest and most memorable figures.
Now that I work almost full-time, I haven’t been writing poetry like I used to. Most of the writing I now do is either work on my novel, or a few words in my daily journal. But over the past few weeks, I’ve felt inspired; and so have made the effort to create some poetry again!
The following poem was inspired by a photograph I saw ages ago, and unfortunately can’t find again despite searching extensively through the internet and all my digital files. It was a photo of an elderly female veteran of the Great Patriotic War; she was dressed in uniform and was highly decorated, and was laying flowers on a timeworn grave. It was the grave of her husband, who had been killed 70 years earlier in the same war that she participated in. Although I failed to save the photo, the loyalty of this woman and the tragedy of her story really stuck in my mind and made the perfect spring of inspiration for my latest poem.
A Ring of Russian Flowers
A ring of Russian flowers
Fed by the bold Rzhev sun
Gazed upon for hours
When the two of us were young.
You gave me such a floral wreath
When we went off to war
It remedied the biting grief
Of all that was in store.
Instead of a pilotka, I had
A ring of flowers in my hair
And even with a gun, you said
I’d never looked so fair.
With a ring of flowers
You asked me for my hand
And no one shared a joy like ours
Though we were in a war-torn land.
Those flowers still bloomed bright
When all else fell away
When thousands died in every fight
They never dimmed to grey.
Onto a floral bed you fell,
With shrapnel through your heart
And mine consumed with the flames of hell
Now that we were apart.
Those flowers still bloom every year
And they smile like you used to
In them I recall your love, my dear
And those days so long ago.
So now it rests with me to bring
A ring of flowers in your name
I lay them on your grave and think
Back to those happy days again.