She later learned that a senior naval officer had been bathing in the tub in his quarters when a bomb struck. The tub, with the officer still in it, fell to the street below. The water apparent- ly cushioned the blow; she says the man was unhurt.
Surprisingly, the nearby bunker in which Cooper typed while Churchill strategized wasn't bombproof.
Cressida Finch, the exhibitions manager for the War Rooms, pointed out that even though the offices were reinforced with steel plates and concrete, they were just 10 feet below street level. Therefore, a direct hit by a V2 or other large bomb would have been devastating, she said.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, September 02, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 2 inches; 75 words Type of Material: Correction
British naval guns: An article in the Aug. 30 Travel section on London and the 70th anniversary of Britain's declaration of war against Germany was accompanied by a photograph of naval guns at the Imperial War Museum's entrance. The photo caption said both guns came from the battleship HMS Roberts. In fact, one came from the Roberts; the other is from HMS Ramillies. Also, the Roberts was technically classified as a monitor, not a battleship.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, September 06, 2009 Home Edition Travel Part L Page 3 Features Desk 2 inches; 88 words Type of Material: Correction
British naval guns: An article in the Aug. 30 Travel section on the 70th anniversary of Britain's declaration of war against Germany and the Imperial War Museum in London was accompanied by a photograph that showed the naval guns at the museum's entrance. The photo caption incorrectly reported that both guns came from the HMS Roberts; in fact, one came from the HMS Ramillies. The HMS Roberts also was incorrectly identified as a battleship; it was, in fact, a warship but was not, technically, classified as a battleship.
A recently discovered letter from 1940 reveals that Churchill was surprised but undaunted when told of the bunker's vulnerability.
"The thing that made it safe was that the Germans didn't know it was here," Finch said.
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Marking the history
of World War II
Both the Churchill Museum and the Imperial War Museum have recently opened new exhibits marking the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II.
Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, King Charles Street near Westminster tube station, www.iwm.org.uk. Churchill Museum's "Undercover: Life in Churchill's Bunker" features the video reminiscences of several people, Muriel Cooper included, who lived in London during the war. Adult admission is about $21. Children under 16 are admitted free.
Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road (near Lambeth North tube station), www.iwm.org.uk. Historian Terry Charman has pulled together the "Outbreak 1939" exhibit, plus an accompanying book. Admission is free.