Stephen Kettle’s 2007 statue of Alan Turing
Commander Alastair Denniston was operational head of GC&CS from 1919 to 1942, beginning with its formation from the Admiralty’s Room 40 (NID25) and the War Office’s MI1b. Key GC&CS cryptanalysts who moved from London to Bletchley Park included John Tiltman, Dillwyn "Dilly" Knox, Josh Cooper, and Nigel de Grey. These people had a variety of backgrounds – linguists, chess champions, and crossword experts were common, and in Knox’s case papyrology. The British War Office recruited top solvers of cryptic crossword puzzles, as these individuals had strong lateral thinking skills.
On the day Britain declared war on Germany, Denniston wrote to the Foreign Office about recruiting "men of the professor type". Personal networking drove early recruitments, particularly of men from the universities of Cambridge and Oxford. Trustworthy women were similarly recruited for administrative and clerical jobs. In one 1941 recruiting stratagem The Daily Telegraph was asked to organise a crossword competition, after which promising contestants were discreetly approached about "a particular type of work as a contribution to the war effort".
Denniston recognised, however, that the enemy’s use of electromechanical cipher machines meant that formally trained mathematicians would also be needed; Oxford’s Peter Twinn joined GC&CS in February 1939; Cambridge’s Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman began training in 1938 and reported to Bletchley the day after war was declared, along with John Jeffreys. Later-recruited cryptanalysts included the mathematicians Derek Taunt, Jack Good, Bill Tutte, and Max Newman; historian Harry Hinsley, and chess champions Hugh Alexander and Stuart Milner-Barry. Joan Clarke (eventually deputy head of Hut 8) was one of the few women employed at Bletchley as a full-fledged cryptanalyst.
This eclectic staff of "Boffins and Debs" caused GC&CS to be whimsically dubbed the "Golf, Cheese and Chess Society", with the female staff in Dilwyn Knox’s section sometimes termed "Dilly’s Fillies". These "Dilly’s girls" included Margaret Rock, Jean Perrin, Clare Harding, Rachel Ronald, Elisabeth Granger; and Mavis Lever – who made the first break into the Italian naval traffic and later, along with Margaret Rock, solved a German code. During a September 1941 morale-boosting visit, Winston Churchill reportedly remarked to Denniston: "I told you to leave no stone unturned to get staff, but I had no idea you had taken me so literally." Six weeks later, having failed to get sufficient typing and unskilled staff to achieve the productivity that was possible, Turing, Welchman, Alexander and Milner-Barry wrote directly to Churchill. His response was "Action this day make sure they have all they want on extreme priority and report to me that this has been done."
After initial training at the Inter-Service Special Intelligence School set up by John Tiltman (initially at an RAF depot in Buckingham and later in Bedford – where it was known locally as "the Spy School") staff worked a six-day week, rotating through three shifts: 4 p.m. to midnight, midnight to 8 a.m. (the most disliked shift), and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., each with a half-hour meal break. At the end of the third week, a worker went off at 8 a.m. and came back at 4 p.m., thus putting in sixteen hours on that last day. The irregular hours affected workers’ health and social life, as well as the routines of the nearby homes at which most staff lodged. The work was tedious and demanded intense concentration; staff got one week’s leave four times a year, but some "girls" collapsed and required extended rest. A small number of men (e.g. Post Office experts in Morse code or German) worked part-time.
In January 1945, at the peak of codebreaking efforts, some 10,000 personnel were working at Bletchley and its outstations. A substantial percentage of personnel at Bletchley Park, 75%, were women; among them were Jane Hughes who processed information leading to the last battle of the Bismarck; and Mavis Batey and Margaret Rock, who were credited for the Abwehr break. Their work achieved official recognition only in 2009. Many of the women came from middle-class backgrounds and held degrees in the areas of mathematics, physics and engineering; they were given entry into STEM programs due to the lack of men, who had been sent to war. They performed complex calculation and coding and hence were integral to the computing processes. Eleanor Ireland worked on the Colossus computers.
Rozanne Colchester was a translator at Bletchley Park. She worked there from April 1942 until January 1945 mainly for the Italian air forces Section. Like most of the ‘Bletchleyettes’, she came from the higher middle class, her father, Air Vice-Marshal Sir Charles Medhurst, being an air attaché in Rome. Before joining the Workforce of the Park, Colchester was moving in high circles “she had met Hitler and been flirted with by Mussolini at an embassy party” writes Sarah Rainey. She joined the Park because she found it thrilling to ‘fight’/work for her country. Cicely Mayhew was recruited straight from university, having graduated from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford in 1944 with a First in French and German, after only two years. She worked in Hut 8, translating decoded German Navy signals.
Ruth Briggs (later called Mrs. Oliver Churchill) worked within the Naval Section and was known as one of the best cryptographers. She was also a German scholar. wikipedia
Tagged: , The , Enigma , cipher , machine , Enigma-logo.svg , rotors , Breaking , Polish , Bureau , Doubles , Grill , Clock , Cyclometer , Bomba , Zygalski , sheets , Bletchley , Park , Banburismus , Herivel , tip , Crib , Bombe , Hut , 6 , 8 , PC , Bruno , Ultra , v , t , e