London, Churchill War Rooms & WWII Memorials

Yesterday I went to London for the day, I decided it was time to visit the Churchill War rooms.

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Travel

So the first thing I had to do was get to London….Train ride for an hour..not bad at all.  So I did look online about purchasing an Oyster Travel card…

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these run out from around £75 and will give you 3 days unlimited travel and free or discounted entry into many attraction.

The issue for me was and maybe for others also, I don’t want to visit many of the attractions this card covers.

So what is the alternative, I purchased a one day trail travel card, cost £13.10, this card gives you unlimited underground/overground travel in London for one day only.

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Although many of the WWII museums are free to enter in London the ques can be long.  The Churchill War Rooms actually has an admission charge of £22.50 per Adult. Instead of paying that I purchased a IWM membership, this cost £35.00, however it is well worth it, I can know join the priority ques, so not a lot of waiting around and it is good for any IWM site across the country.

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You are also allowed to re-visit for free as many times as you like throughout the year and i have to say that the Churchill War Rooms really does warrant a re-visit as there is so much to see and do one day just is not long enough.

Churchill War Rooms

Once you have sorted your entry, pick up your personal digital guide machine which will guide you through the rooms.  Go through the first door and look up, you will see this..

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I have to say its a reminder of what London and other cities in the UK went through during the war….imagine hundreds of these dropping out of the sky, never knowing really if its going to land and explode on or near you!!

As soon as you enter the room you are presented with everything you think your going to see and more…its packed with all sorts of rooms, sleeping quarters, Map room, Churchill dining room and kitchen, just to mention a few…check out the photo gallery to see all the pictures from this visit.

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Following in the footsteps of the people and Churchill himself was a great experience, you get a feel for what is must have being like during WWII in these dark and windowless rooms…

This place is full of great exhibits ranging from Churchill memorabilia to WWII documentation and all manner of other great things to see and read.

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The table above is fully interactive and you just tap on a file and it opens up so you can read it…there is just so much of it, it would take hours to read them all…but worth spending a few minutes looking through.  see photo gallery for all pictures..

So I think it would take several days to fully see and interact with everything in this place….I only had a few hours and I certainly will be returning for more….

There is a great gift shop on site too.

As you come out of the museum if you head for the Palace, Northerly direction

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Memorials & Monuments

just cross the road and head up the park, cross the front of the Palace and turn left, just on the right is the Canadian Memorial,

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walk up the park and you will see the RAF memorial…now it was closed today for cleaning but I still managed to get a picture..

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There is loads of seating and places for food in the parks…I then headed back towards the Themes to visit the Battle if Britain Memorial, on route I saw the Women of WWII memorial

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and the Monty Statue,

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these memorials are basically between Churchill War rooms and the Themes, very close by…

The Churchill Statue is opposite the houses of parliament, from the embankment head towards Big Ben and turn right, cross the road and you will see it.

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My next visit to London I will be going to the Imperial War Museum and then on my way home calling at Duxford Air Museum the next day…so watch out for that…

What is happening next, well on the 5th April we are going to see the D Day Darlings in concert..

Mid April going the visit the Dambuster memorial at Woodhall Spa and visit the Hotel they used during the war.  Also on the same day, Visiting RAF Conningsby to see the Lancaster museum.  So loads more to come..

for all my pictures check out the London Visit Photo’s in the gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridge On the River Kwai

Basic background

Whilst on a visit to Thailand 2006, I decided to visit the Bridge On the River Kwai.  The Thailand to Burma railway also know as (The Death Railway).  Built in 1943, 218 miles (415 km) long between Ban Pong, Thailand and Thanbyulanyat, Burma under the control of the Japanese during WW II.  The primary objective was to improve communication and support to the Japanese forces in Burma.

The Labour force consisted of between 180,000  –  250,000 Asian civilians and 61,000 allied prisoners of war.  Approximately 13,000 POW’s and 100,00 civilians lost their lives during construction, following in the footsteps of these soldiers and civilians I arrive at the Bridge on the river Kwai.

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The Bridge on the River Kwai

When you consider the length and size of the railway it is little wonder that so many lost their lives during its construction, not only was they worked hard, they had to do so under extreme condition, little food and constant ill-treatment from the Japanese.

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Walking across the bridge

The actual bridge is constructed of steel as you can see here, unlike the epic war movie (The Bridge On the River Kwai) 1957 staring Alec Guinness in which the bridge is of wooden construction, but still a great movie. (See end of post for links)

Cost and other sites in the area

Following in the footsteps of these soldiers I took a mini bus from Bangkok to the site for a cost of £20.00, this did include a very unstable looking raft ride on the river as well as the elephant sanctuary and lunch.

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The raft
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Elephant sanctuary

You can go for a ride on the elephants if you wish, I did, it was ok once you realised that you will not fall off…..lasted about 25 minutes and its included.  Anyway, back to the bridge, below you will find a map of its location, click on map to view in google maps.

Kwai map

If you take the mini bus from Bangkok as I did you will be dropped off just around the corner from the bridge, here you will also find a WWII museum which will cost you £1.00 entry fee and worth the time taking a look, see picture below.

 

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As you come out of the museum you turn left to the bridge, only a few minutes walk but you will pass a covered market on the left where you will find a very friendly Leopard.  I spent about 30 minutes with him, you can buy food for him from the owner at £1.50 bag.

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So once you have had a good look around the bridge, either take your mini bus to the Thai  –  Burma cemetery, if your walking you head straight off the bridge westerly until you come to a main road.  Turn right and the cemetery is about 10 minutes walk, you will also find the Thai  –  Burma centre which is worth a visit, its dedicated to the railway, see map below.

Kwai war mem map

 

I used Bangkok as my base for this trip, it took about 2.5 hours to drive here from the city.  It’s not for everyone but there is plenty of hotels up in the northern provinces of Thailand which will make it closer if you don’t fancy the bus ride, oh they do have air/con so it’s quite pleasant on the ride to and from Bangkok.

Final notes

Just a few safety tips, in Thailand you will find hundreds of people with the hard luck story… be aware they are generally scamming you.  I never travel with any kind of jewellery and I wear a low-cost watch.  I also use a top up credit card when travelling, easy to get and if you do lose it or its stolen, you have only lost the money that is on it.  You can top these up from your main bank account online or get a family member to do it for you back home whenever you need more cash.

see my full photo’s here

Safety in Thailand is generally OK, be respectful to their culture and you should have a great visit…..

So I have found this tour which is very similar to the one I took… looks like great value too, to view and book the tour use this link: click on picture below

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below is a selection of the Film (Bridge on the River Kwai) Starring Alec Guinness click on the film to select it...

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And below is a selection of related books: click on your selection

True story B.O.R.kwai book                                          Bridge on kwai Book