Bletchley Park was the site of the United Kingdom's main decryption establishment. Ciphers and codes of several Axis countries were decrypted there, most importantly ciphers generated by the German Enigma and Lorenz machines.
It was easily the most closely guarded and enduring secret of World War II. Thousands of books, articles and reminiscences by the generals, admirals and civilian leadership masterminding the war were all silent on the subject. The usually quite talkative Winston Churchill said nothing about it in his six volume History of the Second World War. The 12,000 men and women who were there, sworn by an oath to king and country, neither spoke nor wrote anything for three decades after the war. They remained silent until the mid 1990s says British Heritage.
The Germans thought the Enigma code could never be broken. But here at Bletchley Park, Alan Turing, a mathematical genius from Cambridge, worked around the clock with his colleagues to break it. They did. And the war was shorter as a result. According to some historians, two years shorter reports the Telegraph.
Enigma and other vintage cipher machines from across the world will be on display at Bletchley Park on the weekend of September 5-6, to coincide with the annual reunion of Allied code breakers who had been based there and who cracked the Enigma code used by the German military, allowing allied commanders to predict and counter the movements of the Nazis reports CNET News.
Bletchely is also the home of Colossus, (aka Eniac) which was an actual computer in the modern sense, looking much like an old science fiction movie. Colossus, ironically, was saved, and a working replica has been preserved reported Digital Journal last year.
On September 5, to mark the 70th anniversary of the day Turing and his colleagues reported for duty at the outbreak of World War 2, the annual Bletchley Park Reunion, now open to the public, will definitely be special. More than 10,000 men and women worked at Bletchley Park during the war, but there will be no more than 150 at the reunion, the youngest well into their eighties.
Thousands of women also worked at Bletchley Park. These women made up the majority of the staff at Bletchley and were essential to the code breaking operations that were key to our eventual war victory reports Finding Ada.
Simon Greenish, director of the Bletchley Park Trust said, This place changed the whole nature of warfare. Before Bletchley Park, wars were fought between armies, with human intelligence playing only a minor part. After Bletchley Park, intelligence gathering has lain at the root of every major military campaign.
One German visitor to Bletchley said to Greenish, "'Thank you for the work done at Bletchley Park. Without it, the Americans would have nuked Berlin."