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Lonely guy goes to war museums

The weather has been holding up pretty well all week – sunny at intervals, and quite warm, – but turned colder on Saturday. I had an idea all week, of visiting a couple of museums that I would be unlikely to visit in the company of my ladies, and the prospect of spending however limited time outside gave me pause. The prospect of spending an entire day alone in front of electronic appliances tipped the scales on the side of the original plan. Off I went.

The museums in question were the Cabinet War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum. Both turned out to be worthy excursions, although I would not put them on the must-see list for everyone. They are certainly must-see for students of last century’s greatest military conflicts, presenting the subjects in utterly impressive ways. The War Rooms convey their claustrophobic nature from the first steps and illustrate living conditions of the military personnel rather vividly. The Churchill Museum, which is collocated with the War Rooms, is an excellent tribute to the great statesman, with dozens of interactive displays charting Churchill’s biography and hundreds of artefacts.

The Imperial War Museum has enough tanks and planes on display to satisfy any fan of military craft. There are also thorough exhibitions on the First and Second World Wars, complete with a simulated trench (for the former) and a simulated Blitz experience (for the latter; I did not visit on account of a sufficiently long line).

There is also an exhibition on Holocaust, which I did not expect and could not pass by. It could not tell a Russian Jew anything that I did not know before, but it is a very powerful and bone-chilling exhibition. It colored the rest of my day a certain way, for sure…

I did a bit of walking despite the weather, but it was too cold to sit on a bench in a park…

On the train back home, a family of five sat next to me. Mom, dad, and three girls, ages 8 to 3, approximately. The girls were picking on one another, producing a medium-scale commotion and mostly ignoring their parents’ pleas to behave. I felt even more lonely than before… Two more days…


  1. Natasha

    Hold on a little bit longer! The girls and I are going to be home soon! Hate to put an extra salt on your wounded heart, but.. we are having a great time with our friends and family.

  2. jason

    Ilya, is the Cabinet War Rooms museum the one inside the actual underground bunkers? I have heard of such a museum and think it sounds really fascinating, but I missed it during my time in England.

    I also missed the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, the big WW II air base just outside Cambridge. Given my long fascination for the air war during WW II, and in particular the bombers of that period, I’ve never forgiven myself for not finding a way to get out there to check it out…

    My next trip over, I guess…

  3. Ilya

    Jason, yes, the Cabinet War Rooms are inside the actual bunkers, which were locked up in May, 1945, and then faithfully restored and opened to the public only in the late 70s. It is a fascinating experience.

    The IWM in London has only a few planes on display (inside a building, obviously), so your interests will certainly be better served by visiting Duxford.

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