St Paul's Cathedral: Wren’s masterpiece became an iconic symbol of London’s determination not to be defeated by the blitz. Despite taking several direct hits the precautions ordered by Churchill (together with some good luck) were adequate ensure that only relatively minor damage was done. The photograph of the dome surrounded by smoke became an enduring image of the war.
The Battle of Britain Memorial (Detail): Britain owed its survival to the bravery and skill of the RAF and especially to those fighter pilots known to history as ‘the few’. The sacrifice made by those young men is commemorated by this impressive two-memorial by the Thames. It was unveiled on 18 September 2005, the 65th anniversary of the Battle. The sculptor, Paul Day, has portrayed almost life-sized airmen scrambling for their aircraft. Bronze plaques list nearly 3,000 men from 14 countries.
Sir Arthur (Bomber) Harris: One of the most controversial of the British WWII commanders, Sir Arthur Travers (‘Bomber’) Harris was Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief RAF Bomber Command and acting Air Chief Marshal during the later years of the Second World War. His preference for area bombing of German cities has been condemned as both inefficient and immoral – to the point where some consider him a war criminal responsible for tens of thousands of civilian deaths, most notably in Dresden. The statue was put up despite protests from both Germany and the UK – and for a time had to be guarded round the clock from fear that it would be vandalised.
Christchurch Greyfriars: Originally a monastic church, Greyfriars was rebuilt by Wren after the Great Fire of London but on 29th of December 1940 a firebomb destroyed the building except for the tower. It was one of eight Wren churches hit on what was one of the worst nights of the blitz. A brave postman rushed in to rescue a beautifully-carved font cover. Today the ruins are a public garden which serves as a permanent reminder of the damage done to London by the bombing.
Bomber Command Memorial: This impressive monument commemorates over 55,000 aircrew from Commonwealth countries (as well as Poland and Czechoslovakia) and the civilian victims of bombing raids on both sides. Given the controversy over the morality of the RAF bombing of German cities it was only in 2012 that the memorial (costing nearly £60m) was unveiled. The Portland Stone building encloses a sculpture by Philip Jackson of seven aircrew just returned from a bombing mission. The roof incorporates the wreckage of a Canadian Halifax bomber.
The Fire-Fighters' Memorial: One of the most dangerous jobs on the Home Front was firefighting at the height of the blitz. This monument is appropriately located near to St Paul’s Cathedral. Unveiled in 1991, it was originally intended to commemorate the men and women who fought fires during the war but later it was decided that it would serve as a monument for all firefighters who have died in the course of their work.
Tube Station Signage from the 1940s: At first the government tried to stop the public using tube stations as air raid shelters (for the price of a platform ticket it was thought to be one of the safest options). They were forced to relent and some stations were closed altogether to allow them to be used as shelters. Communities grew up with facilities and even entertainment. Underground stations did not guarantee safety; hundreds were killed or injured in incidents at Balham, Bank, Bethnal Green and Marble Arch.
Imperial War Museum: Located in the former Bedlam asylum the IWM contains extensive collections illustrating the history of Britain at war with particular emphasis on more recent conflicts. There are major exhibitions on WWI, secret warfare, the Home Front in WWII and a particularly powerful gallery devoted entirely to the European Holocaust. Outside the museum can be seen 15-inch guns from HMS Ramillies and HMS Roberts, both fired during WWII.
Imperial War Museum (Spitfire & V-Weapons): The IWM underwent a major renovation, reopening in 2014. The new atrium displays a Supermarine Spitfire, a V-1 flying bomb, a V-2 rocket, a Harrier Jump Jet and Jeremy Deller's Baghdad, 5 March 2007, the wreckage of a car destroyed by a bomb during the Iraq War.
HMS Belfast: A World War II light cruiser, HMS Belfast saw action in the Arctic convoys in December 1943 and played an important role in the Battle of North Cape, assisting in the destruction of the German warship Scharnhorst. She also took part in the D-Day landings, bombarding enemy positions. In June 1945 Belfast was redeployed to the Far East and later saw further combat action in 1950–52 during the Korean War. She was rescued from being scrapped to become a fascinating museum devoted to the vital work of the Royal Navy in ensuring that Britain retained control of the seaways.
Memorial to the Women of WWII: Unlike many other countries, Britain did not have a monument to the work of women during the war until the present century. The bronze monument in Whitehall was unveiled by the Queen during the 60th anniversary events marking the end of the war. The lettering replicates the typeface used on war time ration books. There are 17 sets of clothing and uniforms around the sides, symbolising the hundreds of different jobs women undertook They include uniforms of the Women's Land Army, Women's Royal Naval Service, a nursing cape, a police overall and a welding mask.
Churchill War Rooms: The Cabinet War Rooms were in a top-secret location hidden away under Whitehall. The bunker sheltered Churchill and his government during the Blitz. The historic rooms have been preserved and recreated as they were then to allow visitors to discover the stories of those who worked underground as London was being bombed above them. The Map Room, access to which was strictly controlled, was manned around the clock by officers of the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force responsible for producing a daily intelligence summary for the King, Prime Minister and the military Chiefs of Staff. The Duty Officer sat at the head of the table; the colour-coded phones allowed communication with other key intelligence services; the black ones had scramblers for security. The position of convoys and the movements of individual warships were plotted on the maps. A record of enemy aircraft shot down was kept on the blackboard. The room today is almost exactly as it was when the lights were turned off in August 1945.
Churchill War Rooms (Conference Room): The Chiefs of Staff were allocated the Conference Room in the spring of 1941. The original naval charts on the walls were found behind a false wall in the basement Map Room of the Admiralty and were restored to their present condition in 2003. These charts were used by Churchill during the first year of the war when he was First Lord of the Admiralty. The other key room was the Cabinet Room - Neville Chamberlain's War Cabinet met at the War Rooms only once in October 1939.
Churchill War Rooms (PM's Office): This room served as office and bedroom for Churchill who had declared of the Cabinet Room that 'This is the room from which I will direct the war'. 115 Cabinet meetings were held at the Cabinet War Rooms, the last one as late as March 1945 during the V-weapon attacks on London. Churchill only occasionally stayed the night in his room – when it was too dangerous to leave – but found it very convenient, being next to the Map Room. He also used the room to speak to the nation on the BBC. The wall maps show Britain’s coastal defences. As there was no proper sewer system Churchill had his own ministerial chamber pot. The life and legacy of Winston Churchill is explored in the interactive Churchill Museum.
Churchill War Rooms (Clementine Churchill's Bedroom): Churchill liked to have his wife Clementine nearby to reassure himself of her safety; a sheltered bedroom, kitchen and dining room were installed for Mrs Churchill, as were bedrooms for the Churchill’s' private detectives, senior aides and secretarial staff. The dining table, sideboard and trolley are the originals which were part of the room. The room was also used occasionally by Churchill’s daughter Mary.