What: Several Trips To Bletchley Park
When: March 2016, February 2017, August 2017.
Distance from home: 50 miles
Length of adventure: A couple of hours
Details: After reading Robert Harris’ book Enigma which is set in Bletchley Park during World War Two, I became very interested in the work that was done there during the war and decided to go for a day trip to find out more.
Since then I have been a few more times with my family and American cousins who were keen to see Bletchley after watching the Oscar winning film The Imitation Game.
What did we do?
A day out at Bletchley is a fascinating insight into the secret work that helped bring World War Two to end years earlier than it would have done.
The second visit was in conjunction with the Westminster Guides and my Dad wrote a piece for the Westminster guides newsletter which does a lovely job of summing up briefly what happened at Bletchley and it’s importance.
Two offices. Two machines by Jonathan Grun for the Westminster Guides Newsletter
The first office is in a German army truck. General Heinz Guderian, one of the architects of blitzkrieg warfare, dictates a signal to his radio operator and cypher clerk.
They encode it using an Enigma machine and it becomes a message that Guderian believes is impossible to break.
It is May, 1940 and the German army is racing across France. Guderian tells his all-conquering army that they have a “Fahrkarte bis zur Endstation.” A ticket to the last station.
The second office is in leafy Bletchley Park and belongs to Alan Turing. He is also working on a machine – one that will unlock the secrets of Enigma. His machine will help ensure that Guderian and the rest of the giant German war machine cannot use the ticket to reach final victory.
As the war unfolds Turing and the other legendary code breakers will turn Bletchley Park into a huge operation. It is very different to the cosy set up at the original Government Code and Cypher School that had operated from 54 Broadway in Westminster before moving to Buckinghamshire as war loomed.
And yet Guderian in his armoured office has no idea of the existence of Turing at his desk in a hut in the English countryside. Yet the two are locked in a battle for civilisation.
A visit to Bletchley Park now is fascinating and moving. Total war can be about daring men and women of action. It can also be about men and women – and at Bletchley Park they were mostly women – who mobilise their minds. An ability to solve crossword puzzles and think differently being as vital as the ability to fire a gun.
They say that the work at Bletchley Park shortened the war by two years, saving countless lives. That effort is remembered by the memorial unveiled by the Queen in 2011, which declares: “They also served”.
To find out more about Bletchley Park and plan a visit you can get all the details on there website here.