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An American's Experience:

WWII and Winston Churchill Museum

By Haley Seger
On February 7, 2012

LONDON, ENGlAND — I knew that I would be having adventures while I was in London, but the last place that I expected to have an adventure was in a museum.

On Saturday, I went to the Imperial War Museum with a

group from my university. Winston Churchill and World War II are a little late for my historical interests, but I decided to go anyway. The fact that tickets were pretty cheap also helped.

The museum building was surprisingly interesting. It was built as a bunker that was used by the government during the bombing of London during 1940 and 1941. Half of the museum is a tour of the old bunker, leading you through the war cabinet room, the transatlantic call room, and other secret areas of Britain's most important base during the

bombings. The other half of the museum is dedicated to Winston Churchill, covering his entire life. The Churchill exhibit is displayed in the middle of the bunker due to spacing issues. I had just finished with Churchill's part of the museum and was headed back to the tour the rest of the bunker when a voice came over the intercom system and stated calmly, "Ladies and gentlemen, due to unforeseen circumstances, please make your way to the nearest

exit." There was a moment when everyone in the museum stopped and looked at each other. A couple of people laughed a little bit, thinking that it was part of the exhibit.

Then the voice repeated the announcement. Both because of the calmness of the voice over the intercom and the irony of the situation, everyone peacefully moved towards the exits. Even though the hallway through which I exited

smelled like smoke, no one started to worry. Who would have thought that something could go wrong in a bunker that protected the most important people in the British government during World War II? As soon as I exited the building and joined the rest of my group, the museum employees insisted that we move across the street. Jokes were made about exploding windows and some kind of

terrorist threat, but the chances of someone wanting to blow up a museum when the Parliament buildings are only two blocks away seemed rather unlikely. The museum employees didn't seem to know what was going on either, but they were happy to sign our ticket to confirm that we had been evacuated and could return at a later time if we wished. Just before we left, a fire truck pulled up in front of the building, giving us a good photo opportunity. I still don't know what happened. A couple of people suggested that it might have been a gas leak. Whatever the cause, being

able to say I was evacuated from a World War II bunker always makes for a good story.

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