Churchill's WWII Bunker Was Bogus
War rooms, in barely converted basements, weren't bomb-proof
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2009 7:00 AM CDT
Winston Churchill smokes a cigar while meeting Franklin Roosevelt and Josef Stalin at the Livadia Palace gardens in Yalta in 1945.   (AP Photo, File)
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(Newser) – Winston Churchill kept the British government running through World War II from a bunker underneath central London, but a new exhibition reveals the prime minister's fury that his office was vulnerable to attack. The hastily converted war rooms, where Churchill and his staff worked and slept, lay only 10 feet underground and probably would not have withstood a direct hit. The bunker was "in effect a basement rather than a bunker," the show's curator tells the BBC.

While Adolf Hitler ran Germany from a subterranean chamber fortified in multiple layers of concrete, Churchill worked from a sandbagged former storage room prepared a week before the invasion of Poland. In a letter on display, a civil servant writes of Churchill's anger: "The PM said I had 'sold him a pup' in letting him think that this place is a real bomb-proof shelter, whereas it is nothing of the kind."