Day one in London began with an afternoon tour of World War I and II era monuments, which celebrated those who served in the respective wars. This tour allowed the class to explore and learn about some of the many countries and groups that participated in the war, such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Allied Forces Artillery, and the RAF Bomber group.
Our second day in London, we took a train to Bletchley Park, the once secret site of the British intelligence during World War II. As the need for code breaking grew during the WWII, the workforce at Bletchley Park increased from 100 individuals to over 40,000 at its peak. Of these 40,000+ individuals, it is estimated that ¾ were women. Ranging from maintenance staff to the officers themselves, each of these individuals had to adopt a code of secrecy regarding what they were working on. Their commitment to secrecy and dedication led to innovations that helped the Allied powers break into the Enigma and Lorenz machines. By learning how to decipher Axis messages, the Allies were able to create a strategy that provided the best chances of winning the war.
The third and final day in London began with a visit to the Imperial War Museum, which was one of my favorite visits in London. This museum contains artifacts and machinery from World Wars I and II that illustrate the technologies used by both sides in the war and provide context for the greater narrative. After this visit, the class toured the Cabinet War Rooms. These rooms are a part of a once secret underground bunker in which Churchill and many other key leaders of World War II planned the operations that eventually lead to the defeat of the Axis powers.
Overall, visiting London was an extraordinary experience that laid the groundwork for the rest of the trip. These few initial stops described provide context and a good foundation of understanding for the days to come.