Larger than life Winston Churchill, Prime Minister
of the UK from 1940-45 and again 1951-55.
Widely regarded as one of the great wartime leaders
of the 20th century, he’s the only British PM to
win a Nobel Prize in literature and the first person
ever to be made an honorary citizen to the US. 
Lady Astor, the first woman ever seated at Parliament,
had this famous exchange with a testy Churchill.
Churchill rallied the British during World War II. He was
 the first person knighted by Queen Elizabeth once she
 was crowned in 1953.  My favorite Churchill quote,
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the
truth has a chance to get its pants on.” 
During the Blitz (German for “lightning”)
in WWII, the UK was bombed for 31 weeks.
London was attacked 71 times.  At times,
up to 150,000 people took shelter underground,
using Tube stations like air raid bunkers.
This one is just block from the Parliament
building next to Big Ben, which kept a
very British stiff upper lip, chiming and
keeping perfect time throughout the bombings.

Meanwhile, underground, sandwiched between 10 Downing
 Street and the Parliament, a top secret bunker now known
 as the Churchill War Rooms was humming. Typists
 listened with headphones to morse coded messages,
 recorded them on noiseless typewriters, and passed along
 the coded info to high ranking officers who would
 interpret the news for the Cabinet.  Little did they
know they were reporting bomb targets, casualties and
wartime troop maneuvers.
Work in the War Rooms was brutal.
With bombs falling overhead, people
sometimes slept in makeshift dorms
 rather than risk the treacherous walk
 home through London.  Here some of
the most brilliant British officers spent
their days breathing stale air, working
by “day light” lamps (a predecessor
to our seasonal affected disorder lamps)
to emerge white-faced and blinking for
a few hours in the evening.
No personal communication with the outside was permitted
once the bunker door closed and locked down.
  The families of the
officers and office workers had no idea
 their loved ones 
were in a bunker working directly
 for Churchill.  
Switchboard operators had specific instructions
as to which calls were routed to white, green, black or
the drop-everything-and-answer hot line red phones.

Churchill’s sleeping quarters included a battery operated
light in case of power failure, and an ashtray for
the ever present cigar.  Smoking was constant in
the bunker.  The labyrinth of passageways and secure
rooms was so extensive, workers could go for months
at a time without actually seeing Churchill, but they
reported frequently smelling the trail of his cigar. 

The entrance to 10 Downing Street, still home to the
British Prime Minister.  Despite the smiles, it is now
one of the most heavily guarded buildings in the world.
The actual front door cannot be opened from the outside
 because it has no handle.