On 18th June The Duchess of Cambridge will visit the WWII-famous Bletchley Park.
Bletchley Park, located in Milton Keynes, played such a key role in WWII, that it is thought the work that took place there shortened the war by two years. Catherine will be there to commemorate its reopening after a year’s worth of restoration.
Opened in 1992 by Bletchley Park Trust to preserve the key site for the nation, the work has restored it to its war appearance with £8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, to help visitors experience what it was like to have been a codebreaker during the war.
Kate will visit the restored centre, which was chosen by ‘Captain Ridley’s Shooting Party’ at a mansion-house in the Buckinghamshire countryside; a team of MI6 workers and the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), scouted the area to see if it would work as a code-breaking centre outside of the capital.
The mission given to the workers of Bletchley was to crack Nazi codes and ciphers, including the famous Enigma, and The Duchess will learn about the code-breakers’ work during the war, who intercepted the messages of Germany and its allies. The messages were then decrypted, translated and analysed for vital intelligence to help quash the fascist powers in Europe.
Despite the Polish cracking Enigma in 1932, the advent of war meant the code changed at least once a day, giving 159 million million million possible settings to choose from, and so the breakthrough made at Bletchley was remarkable. Dilly Knox, John Jeffreys, Peter Twinn and Alan Turing all worked on Bletchley’s code-cracking. Turing and Gordon Welchman created ‘The Bombe’ a complex electro-mechanical device, which sped up cancelling out those settings which would not work.
Station X, as Bletchley was known, kept top-secret, worked with the ‘Y’ Service, who monitored radio messages from the enemy; these listeners included Wrens, WAAF and the ATS, logging messages and trying to build a picture of the enemy’s plans.
Special Communication Units were set up to feed the Bletchley Park intelligence to commanders in the field, first in France in 1940 and then North Africa and elsewhere from 1941. 1942 brought difficulties when the German Navy’s introduced a more complex Enigma cipher, but by the end of the year, this was too decoded.
Kate will be shown interactive exhibitions and demonstrations, and will meet the Design & Management Team and supporters who worked on the project. The wife of Prince William will tour Bletchley Park with Sir John Scarlett, Chairman of the Bletchley Park Trust, and Iain Standen, Chief Executive Officer of the Trust. The Duchess will plant a tree to commemorate her visit and the completion of the restoration.
Huts were set up on the green of the mansion, and were known by an individual number for security reasons. Kate will visit these WWII Codebreaking Huts and hear about the achievements of the Codebreakers, including speaking with some veterans of Bletchley, who helped win the war.
photo credit: Government House NZ/Crown/Woolfe and RossM. via photopin cc
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