Ian Kikuchi
Thursday 18 January 2018

'Excessive dislike of extraneous noise'

'Excessive dislike of extraneous noise'

Since IWM was formed more than a century ago, our collections have told the stories of the many different kinds of people involved in conflicts. The Remington ‘noiseless’ Typewriter at Churchill War Rooms helps tell the story of what it was like for a typist to help Britain and its most iconic Prime Minister triumph during the Second World War.

Since the end of the First World War, the British government feared London would become a target for air raids in a new war. In 1938, with tension building in Europe, a group of basement offices in a Whitehall building close to Parliament was chosen as the site for what would become the Cabinet War Rooms.

These basement rooms were adapted to provide meeting places for the War Cabinet during air raids, and its ‘Map Room' housed a military information centre. Here, vital information was collected for King George VI, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the armed forces.

The Cabinet War Rooms acted as the centre of Britain’s war effort, providing secret underground headquarters occupied by leading government ministers, military strategists, and Churchill himself.

From 1940-45, the Cabinet War Rooms became the inner sanctum of the British government. Churchill's War Cabinet met here 115 times, most frequently during the Blitz and V-weapon attacks from Germany, and hundreds of men and women spent thousands of hours working here.

This presented a problem for Churchill as he insisted on a quiet working environment, and Britain’s Prime Minister ordered his staff to use special typewriters that would reduce unnecessary noise.

Remington ‘noiseless’ Typewriters were soon imported from the United States and quickly populated the Cabinet War Rooms. These typewriters were in constant use, generating typed reports and memoranda that would have crossed the desks of Churchill and his War Cabinet.

The Cabinet War Rooms were in use 24 hours a day until 16 August 1945, when the lights were turned off in the Map Room for the first time in six years.

In 1984, IWM opened Churchill War Rooms to the public for the first time. Today, you can visit these rooms and discover the story behind IWM’s Remington ‘noiseless’ Typewriter for yourself.