Bletchley Park – WWII and Beyond

Following on from last weeks blog post about the British Spy School at Bletchey Park, I thought it would be interested to look at its influence during the war and beyond.

The team at Bletchley Park was responsible for breaking codes which were being sent out from several countries during its operation, including:

  1. Germany

shutterstock_251930461Even though German Enigma and Lorenz ciphers should have been unbreakable, the Germans lackadaisical approach and flaws in their system resulted in many of them being deciphered. Had the country’s officials been aware of the success the team at Bletchley Park were having, they could have rectified this at any moment.

Most of the messages that Bletchley worked on which had come from Germany were from a version of the Enigma cipher machine, or (in a much smaller amount which was even more difficult to decipher) by the twelve-rotor Lorenz SZ42 online tele printer cypher machine. The British employed techniques which had been discovered by the Polish to break many of the codes. Up to 4000 German messages were read daily, with the aid of ‘bombes’ which had been designed for this purpose. Some of this automatic machinery, which was made to help in decryption, became the foundation of the first programmable digital electronic computer, Colossus, that was introduced in February 1944.

  1. Italy

After Italy entered the war in 1941, Bletchley Park created a division to decipher codes emitted from the country. Staff members here were instrumental in securing a British victory at The Battle of Cape Matalan, after solving Italy’s signals which outlined their plan of action.

  1. The Soviet Union

From as early as the 1920s, signals from The Soviet Union were being monitored by the British. In June 1941, when the Russians became allies, Winston Churchill ordered that the country’s interception of their signals cease and by December 1941, the section of Bletchley Park that had been assigned this task was officially closed.

World War II continued to destroy areas around the compound, but Bletchley Park itself was only damaged once during its entirety. This happened in November 1940, when three bombs that had been meant to target Bletchley Rail Station fell on the property.

51urfvnrsylAfter the war ended, those that had been employed at Bletchley Park were required to maintain the secrecy of the work they had done. Even though a few incidents were leaked, most people respected this order and it wasn’t until 1974, when a book was published entitled ‘The Ultra Secret’ (which outlined some of the work done by Bletchley during the war) did the public have an idea of what had occurred there. In July 2009, the British government finally acknowledged those that had worked at Bletchley with commemorative badges.

In February 1992, Bletchley Park was proclaimed a conservation area and a museum was opened to visitors the following year. In June 2014 restoration of the entire site was completed, and the design tells the story of the part Bletchley Park played during the war. The attraction continues to attract millions of visitors annually, including many foreigners.

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