Sunday, 6 July 2008

England Part VI - Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire

It was the most closely guarded secret of World War II.
Bletchley Park was the United Kingdom's main codebreaking establishment.
Over 10,000 people worked there, all sworn to absolute secrecy, and all remained silent about their work until the mid 1990s.

World War II enemy messages were produced in what seemed to be gibberish in five letter combinations generated by the German Enigma machine. Thousands of Enigma-coded messages were transmitted every day.

It's cipher had 150 million million million possible combinations which the Germans thought was unbreakable. I can't even imagine a number as large as that.
If you have some spare time and feel like building your own Enigma machine, this is how it worked.
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But the German military didn't reckon on Alan Turing and the boffins at Bletchley Park.

Huge noisy codebreaking machines called "bombes" were operated by Naval WRENs. By 1943, 3,000 messages per day were being intercepted and decoded.


There's lots more to the Enigma story than this, but the mind gets boggled by so much technology, well... mine does.
We spent a whole day here at Bletchley Park. Not only is the War Museum absolutely fascinating, the setting is in one of England's grand stately homes surrounded by well kept gardens.
Well worth a visit.
For more posts about my time spent in England, please scroll down.

13 comments:

Xtreme English said...

ooh, goody! did you see the 2002 movie "Enigma"? Starring, among others, the sublime Kate Winslet? i did, and i loved it. but this is the real mccoy!!

Hilary said...

Sounds and looks fascinating, ex-S!

photowannabe said...

Fascinating and to me totally mind boggeling. I'll bet this was such an interesting place to visit.

dabrah said...

I must get there. It's about 15 minutes up the road from me and I've never been. My daughter and her then boyfriend went because his grandmother had worked there, and when they found out they asked her to get in touch. She was thrilled to bits to tell them all about her experiences. I must definitely visit. I've just been scrolling down your posts and your pictures are amazing.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Fascinating, my dear! I have heard a little bit about "Enigma"...my heavens it is all too complex for me!
You really got to see some unusual places and things on your special trip!

Peter said...

Thanks for this very interesting info... which led me to look at your different links and spend considerable time! Fascinating!

Ash said...

I agree with all the other commentors...this is truly fascinating :-)

Kerri said...

WOW! What a machine!!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

THIS is so-o-o cool! It's so amazing that that Britain was cracking the Nazi code generated by the Enigma machine. And that so many people were able to keep the secret for so long! (And a lot of them were women, I hasten to point out. LOL)

CanadianSwiss said...

Did anyone mention "Fascinating" already? Yes? Then I'll just repeat it. The machines are sooo cool! And it's incredible that the secret was kept until the mid 90's!

madretz said...

I can't even keep my p's and q's straight. I think I'll pass on codebreaking.

Neva said...

My head is spinning just looking at this....this is fabulous....I posted a few more pictures of the Bride...unfortunately, I did not get the kind of shots I would have liked due to where I was sitting...her dress sure was stunning.....

lorenzothellama said...

One of my husband's teachers at school used to work at Bletchley Park during the war and was responsible for a lot of the de-coding!