The Imperial War Museum


Rolling cannon

Our second day out, we headed to the Imperial War Museum.  As always we rely on the public transportation as London has one of the best systems in the world.  I have actually driven a rental car in London and it’s not something a normal person on vacation should attempt!  It’s nerve racking and I will venture to say impossible unless you buy the “London A to Z” guide and have someone else to read while you drive.  The street names will change in the middle of a long street.  The signs are not on street level, but up on the side of a building, so it’s not like they pop up and you know it’s changed.  Also, because of the crowds and traffic, it’s quite easy to spend hours driving in circles.  Then there is the past incident of me asking a distinguished looking gentleman how to get to the M25 and he scratched his head and said “you can’t get there from here.”  I felt like I was reading “Notes From A Small Island” by Bill Bryson again!


Hawker Hurricane

Now I don’t like war, I don’t believe it is a solution to anything except heartache and horror.  I do however love history and support the men and women that fight for their countries. This is a really excellent museum and we both enjoyed it.  It has so many intact, full size pieces of equipment and amazing photos.  There are service men and women that are docents at the museum, willing to share their knowledge with you.  My husband, of course being a male, was enthralled with the planes, tanks, rockets and bombs.  Clearly his favorite item being a circa WWII mini-bike, the evidence of this in the twenty or so photos he took of it!


Circa WWII mini-bike

I think my favorite item was a little safety hut, placed around the streets of London for the police and fireman to duck into to avoid debris that was falling.  I don’t think it would help at all if a bomb landed on it, but I’m sure they felt a little safer knowing they were protected from flying shrapnel.

Safety hut

Safety hut


My favorite exhibition here was the “home life” exhibition.  There were many wonderful photos from WWII and vignettes of what an average British home looked like during WWII.  Many food containers of things they could “buy” with their ration cards and cleaning items that were used.  What families and children at home and school did during a bomb raid.  There was music and clothing, furniture, and tools.  There was a really well done exhibition following one family, the Allpress family, throughout the war. Who lived, who died, what happened to them after the war.  I’m not sure if that is a permanent exhibition or not.  It’s definitely worth seeing.

A Family In Wartime Exhibition

On the top floor of the Imperial War Museum is a very well done Holocaust Museum.  It’s important not to forget what people are willing to do to other humans in the name of war.  It does an excellent job of bringing those horrors to the viewer.  By the time we made it through that amazing exhibition we were both drained.  I suggested we head over to the Garden Museum.  No matter how bad you are feeling, gardens will help you get through it!

Work by Morris Kestelman


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