I have never blogged before so this should be interesting. Where do I begin? Well, I will put some perspective in to this before I start rambling about London. I have been waiting to go on this specific study abroad since the fall of 2013 when I first met with Professor Steigerwald. Back then, I was an enthusiastic first year student that wanted to learn and go abroad and I knew that I was interested in History and especially World War II. This program was a perfect fit, especially since I was not a History major at that point, and I could earn a minor through the program. To say that I have anticipated this trip would be an understatement. As we boarded the plan for London in the Toronto airport, I got slightly emotional. It finally hit me that I was embarking on a trip that I have been working towards for almost two years.
Here I am. London, England. I have already seen and learned about many historic sites, but I want to share with you a slice of World War II specific history. Today the entire group was able to go to the Churchill War Rooms and Museum, a fantastic place with an extraordinary artifacts, documents, and displays. It was humbling and aweing to be in the rooms in which Churchill and his War Cabinet made crucial decisions, planned and executed the D-Day invasion, and at times slept and ate through bombing raids. The maps used to chart the movements of Allied and Axis troops and convoys were riddled with pinholes where they had marked positions. I saw the machines used to decode German transmissions, a vital piece to victory for the Allies. The impact of every person and tool used in the war rooms was truly incredible, and as I read and learned about them all I only had a small glimpse into the enormity and import of this operation throughout World War II.
The Churchill Museum was just as wonderful as the War Rooms, and I learned so much about Churchill and England during and after the war. Winston Churchill is an interesting man who was and still is very controversial. His political views often clashed with his own party alignment, which even led to his change in allegiance. Churchill was also extremely adamant in opposing freedom for India, and he was incredibly anti-Communist. While he is often viewed as an astounding wartime leader, he lost his position as Prime Minister before World War II even ended. Many details like these are left out or passed over.
Many people affected World War II, from the commanding generals to the workers at the home front. Almost every person in the world either contributed to or was affected by the war, but from what I learned today I believe that Winston Churchill was the most influential person involved in World War II. While he did have an incredible supporting cast and immense resources to draw from, his ideas, strategies, and leadership were key to the success of the defense of Britain and the subsequent success of the Allied forces in defeating Hitler. While I have been taught about Churchill many times, this experience has truly shown the incredible passion, drive, and impact that Churchill had on the world.