Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting a really special place: Bletchley Park
For those of you who recognise the name but can’t quite put your finger on why, here’s a brief summary:
In 1938 Hitler was proving to be a ruthless military leader and members of MI6 started to plan for a potential war. Part of this planning was to find a top secret location, in a completely inconspicuous rural location where intelligence could be gathered – and this is where Bletchley Park came in.
When WWII started Bletchley Park became a hub for vital intelligence, and when Britain managed to get its hands on one of Germany’s Enigma machines – experts from all walks of life were drafted in to help crack the German coding system.
From 1939 – 1945 Bletchley recruited a staggering 9000 people, all of whom signed the Official Secrets Act and worked as a vital team to help win the war. Experts say that the work done in Bletchley alone helped to shorten the war by around 2 years. To put this into perspective historians estimate that 62 million people died worldwide during the 6 years of WWII. So that’s potentially 20,000,000 people’s lives that were saved by a motley crew of mathematicians, engineers, typists, officers, language specialists, cooks, cleaners and many more!
One of those 9000 people was my husband’s grandad, who sadly passed away unexpectedly young before he could even talk about his work for the war efforts. Snippets of his life and time at Bletchley (1943-1945) are still coming to light, but what a joy to be able to visit Bletchley and see the actual room where my husband’s grandad worked in 8-hour shifts to help piece together fragments of decoded German messages. Oh, the stories he must have been keeping secret!
I was emotional walking into Hut 3 and seeing the room where ‘The Watch’ pieced together decoded messages, and I’m sure so were my husband and mother-in-law. Below are some pictures that I took of the rooms that have been so expertly restored to their former glory – it looks like the code-breakers has just nipped out for lunch.
We literally owe our lives to these wonderful people that worked so hard, in secret to end the war. To the mathematicians who broke the codes, we owe our present technological age – without them I may not have been typing on a computer right now!
If you’re curious and want to know more, please take a visit. It’s £15 for an adult ticket and this is a 12-month ticket so you can return as often as your like within a year.