@Leisure: Bletchley park-a stately home with secrets

June 11th, 2014, Published in Articles: PositionIT


To many people, when looking back on the Second World War, images appear in their mind’s eye of bombed cities, of dogfights during the Battle of Britain and of U-boats wreaking havoc amongst the Atlantic convoys. To South Africans it is probably the tank battles in the deserts of Cyrenaica, where the Allies took on the forces of Erwin Rommel, which are etched in so many older minds. And then, for everyone, there appear those horrific images that revealed the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the A-bombs had ended it all.

Bletchley Park,or The Mansion as it was known (Picture: Dr. Brian Austin)

Bletchley Park,or The Mansion as it was known (Picture: Dr. Brian Austin)

But there’s also another story of the war – a far less-known story – whose consequences were to affect all our lives in the years that followed. And they still do today. It all began at Bletchley Park, a stately home just north-west of London, near Milton Keynes, that became the home of the code-breakers who cracked Hitler’s secret ciphers. But its origins were shrouded in secrecy and details only began to emerge, very sparingly at first, more than 30 years after the world had picked up the pieces following almost six years of global conflict.

BP, or Station X, as it was known, started the world on a course where the computer changed everything and the man whose name is inextricably linked with all that is Alan Turing. However, I’m not going to talk about Turing at all; his story is so well known that it bears no repeating. Far less familiar, even amongst the addicts of the BP saga, is the story about how those encoded messages reached Bletchley Park in the first place. Who were the people responsible for that? And how was it done? (more)

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