Each tunnel would have two decks, fully equipped with bunks, medical posts, kitchens and sanitation and each installation would accommodate 9,600. This capacity was later reduced to 8,000 as a result of improved accommodation standards. Work began on November 27th 1940 and it was hoped to have the first shelters ready by the following summer. There were great difficulties in obtaining labour and material and when the blitz abated the Government had second thoughts and in the middle of 1941 a select committee on national expenditure recommended that no further deep shelters be built, but those started should be completed.
The structure was adapted to meet these bodies' operational needs and to provide living accommodation for their staff
The precise allocation was:
Inter Services Research Bureau was a cover name for the research and development section of Special Operations Executive (SOE), itself an offshoot of M16 set up initially to help the Resistance in German-occupied countries and later expanded into a covert organisation of about 10,000 men and women. The Bureau's use of the Chancery Lane location may explain a reference in Leo Marks's book Between Silk & Cyanide, which describes his role in agent communication activities. The department known as the Government Communications Bureau was another cover name, relating to the combined signals intelligence (SIGINT) organisation of the three armed services. It later took the name of, and became more familiar as, Government Communications Headquarters or GCHQ.
Telephone switchboard in General Eisenhower's headquarters in the Goodge Street shelter which, like Chancery Lane became a government 'citadel' rather than a public shelter.
Needless to say, these arrangements did not meet with universal approval. ISRB indicated the majority of their communications ran northward and Belsize Park would have been more convenient. The Ministry of Works argued this had no influence on cable routes; lines from both locations would run through the same Northern Line tube tunnels and where these surfaced at Golders Green they would lose protection in any case. Nevertheless, ISRB was content to establish a map room, signals room, operations room and sleeping area at `Chancery Lane West', as the file calls it.
In March 1944, it was agreed that staff of the Port of London Authority, Flag Officer in Charge and War Department Movement Control could join those other departments with allocated space in Chancery Lane. For the London Civil Defence Region, Chancery Lane became its `reserve war room' in May 1944, fitted out to handle ambulance provision, casualty service, rescue co-ordination, heavy rescue, research and experiments. The ponderous instructions issued to selected staff made abundantly clear what lay before them:
“When operations start on the Continent, or possibly before, the enemy may include London amongst other targets in an attempt to disorganise our military operations. As it is vital that these operations shall proceed with the minimum of interruption the Regional Commissioners, in common with other departments, have made arrangements to carry on in premises and under conditions likely to be impervious to enemy attack. You, as one of the officers needed to undertake this duty, will realise the vital importance of the work and accept any inconvenience to which you may be subjected during the emergency period. A move of this nature may have to be made at very short notice. You should therefore hold yourself in readiness to move ... at once.” The personal instructions also dealt with security and housekeeping matters, noting that although entrances existed in Holborn and on the tube station platform, Civil Defence London Region staff should use the “special entrance in Furnival Street”. Also that: “The lift service is not good, there being only one lift which moves very slowly, therefore, it should be used for upward journeys only.
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