Post World War I, military planners saw the need to build an underground bunker for use if the Prime Minister, Cabinet and any essential staff needed to be evacuated in case of future warfare. They did not wish for the bunker to be built out of London for fear the British people would believe their Prime Minister was abandoning them. The offices were therefore built in plain sight – in the basement rooms of Whitehall. It became known as the Cabinet War Rooms with construction completed one week before Britain declared war on Germany in 1939. The War Rooms contained multiple meeting rooms for Cabinet to discuss tactics during air raids, a Map Room which contained a large map covering the wall detailing the locations of their troops, a small personal toilet for the Prime Minister which was actually a secret room Churchill used to communicate with American President Roosevelt and Churchill’s sleeping quarters. The basement was very shallow underground and would not have been able to withstand a direct hit from bombers, so Churchill preferred to sleep in his own house. Churchill’s War Cabinet were open 24 hours a day, the Cabinet met here 115 times and the lights in the map room weren’t turned off for the first time until 1945 after six years. The rooms became open to the public in 1984, and in 2005 Queen Elizabeth II opened the Churchill Museum.
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