On January 20, 1942, a group of Nazi leaders met to coordinate a continent-wide genocide. When Turing returned to Cambridge, he attended lectures given in 1939 by Ludwig Wittgenstein about the foundations of mathematics. Bletchley Park was aided in its efforts to decipher Enigma by the prewar exploits of Polish codebreakers. It is sometimes said that the operation at Bletchley shortened the Second World War by two or three years, “and it is certainly easy to see how reading so many of the operational and strategic signals of the enemy was invaluable to the Allies”, says Christopher Grey. It’s not just that Alan Turing seems to scoop up all the praise, but that there were so many other interesting characters at Bletchley it would be good to bring some of them to the fore and have their stories better known. He is a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, Oxford. Bletchley Park's success rested on subterfuge, so a standard want ad and interview wasn't an option to find code-breaking candidates. Bletchley Park was where Alan Turing and other agents of the Ultra intelligence project decoded the enemy’s secret messages, most notably those that had been encrypted with the German Enigma and Tunny cipher machines. If you subscribe to BBC History Magazine Print or Digital Editions then you can unlock 10 years’ worth of archived history material fully searchable by Topic, Location, Period and Person. A statue of Alan Turing, created in slate by Stephen Kettle in 2007, is located at Bletchley Park in England as part of an exhibition that honours Turing (1912–1954). He pleaded guilty. And in case anyone was in any doubt about it, at the end of the war the head of Bletchley Park sent round a memo telling everyone that the code of silence applied not just during wartime but forever. 7 things you didn’t know about Bletchley Park and Alan Turing. It moved from being simply a codebreaking operation to a more integrated signals intelligence entity, linking interception, cryptanalysis, translation, intelligence analysis and intelligence dissemination. John Ferris's Behind the Enigma book says Alan Turing and Bletchley have become myth Professor Ferris writes 'Subtly invoked archetypes' made 'Bletchley Park into myth'. He began writing in 2014 after a career in law. In June 1940, Clarke was recruited by her former academic supervisor, Gordon Welchman, to the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS). Because of changes to the German operating procedures and the introduction of extra wheels, the Polish Bomba was now obsolete. I’m looking forward to my next visit to The National WWII Museum! On the morning of 8 June 1954, Turing was found dead in bed by his housekeeper. Alan Turing died before Dermot was born but his legend looms large in the family and Dermot has written a book, debunking some of the myths that have grown up about this intriguing man, and giving a unique family perspective on his remarkable work and the tragic end to his life. We can learn about the social side of things as much as the intellectual side. Alan Turing: The man, the enigma (exclusive to The Library) Computer's multimedia editor Charles Severance visits Bletchley Park to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing's birth. His thesis was ‘Systems of logic based on ordinals’. Bletchley Park Turing was responsible for another major development in breaking Enigma. His Turing test was a significant and characteristically provocative contribution to the debate regarding artificial intelligence. Thanks for having me! There was a small code-breaking organization between the wars called the Government Code & Cypher School, which was part of MI6, and they moved in just before the war began. I asked him some questions about the book, Bletchley, and his war-winning, world-famous uncle. 504-528-1944, Institute for the Study of War and Democracy, Coordinating the Destruction of an Entire People: The Wannsee Conference, Otto Ohlendorf, Einsatzgruppe D, and the ‘Holocaust by Bullets’, The Capture and Execution of William Joyce, Coming To America: The War Brides Act of 1945. Covering the Cold War, Prof Ferris states that Bletchley could not get inside the Soviet communications. The treatment he received was not the idea of the Establishment as such but the result of the rather bizarre way that homosexuality was regarded as a disease in 1950s Britain, and Alan was handed over by the court to the medics and psychiatrists. Of all the people who served at Bletchley, your uncle, Alan Turing, is by far the most famous. Home of the Government Code and Cipher School (GC & CS) – the forerunner of today’s GCHQ – operations at Bletchley are said to have shortened the Second World War by as many as two or three years. By entering your details, you are agreeing to HistoryExtra terms and conditions and privacy policy. Alan Turing was one of these academics: he was recruited in 1938 and sent on a training course to learn about codes (and the Enigma machine) early in 1939. Born in London in 1912, he studied at both Cambridge and Princeton universities. You have successfully linked your account! What is the legacy of Bletchley Park, Alan Turing, and those unsung heroes that worked with him? Alan Turing 1912 - 1954. But by 1942 the codebreaking process, certainly on Enigma, was largely mechanized, so there was much less for him to do in the theoretical line. Please enter your number below. What they didn’t know was that Alan Turing was an Olympic-level runner and of course it was the Prof who beat the army and navy guys by some margin. For one thing, quite a large number of women were employed in senior code-breaking and intelligence analysis jobs. As a family member, what insights have you gleaned, either from family papers or lore over the years? My father (Alan’s older brother) used to talk about Alan cycling to work in the summer wearing his gas-mask because it warded off hay-fever, and of course that scared the pants off the people who saw him, who thought there must be a raid on. In his lifetime of course nobody knew, and nobody was allowed to know, about what had happened at Bletchley Park. I can’t explain that otherwise than that the police were out to get him in some sense. The section was led initially by Alan Turing. Was that the motivation of this book? In Britain, people are immensely proud of Bletchley Park and its achievements. Q&A: Which of Bletchley Park’s decodings was most significant? Another thing of interest is how it came about that the story of Bletchley Park eventually became public—all that is explored in the book as well. However, for these “War Brides” restrictive American immigrations policies posed a major challenge. By the middle period of the war, when the bombe machines used in decrypting Enigma were up and running, Bletchley needed huge numbers of junior staff for fairly routine roles. I suspect that underneath this paradox it is the story of Alan Turing himself which people find fascinating and that is why we tend to inflate his importance as a code-breaker. Bletchley Park is a name on everyone’s lips at the moment thanks to the generous coverage stemming from a film that rightly celebrates the role played by men like Alan Turing. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. You know, the media called it the ‘artificial brain,’ it was all over the papers and the BBC and there was a hoo-hah about whether ‘machines can think,’ and Alan Turing was at the center of all that. It is sometimes said that the operation at Bletchley shortened the … Your 60-second guide to Bletchley Park, Christopher Grey, professor of organisational behaviour at Warwick University, says: “What had been created was no less than an intelligence ‘factory’ which sucked in thousands of people working in conditions of complete secrecy. Alan Turing helped the British government pioneer the technology to decrypt Nazi Germany’s secret communications during World War II. Bletchley shortened the war. Turing’s article ‘Computing machinery and intelligence’, led to what is now known as the Turing Test. He is also a regular speaker at historical and other events. Many had no idea what they were working on – they merely knew that they had to complete their one little part of the process.”. In the months before then, GC&CS had been out recruiting extra staff to put on their ‘emergency list’—effectively a reserve list. It’s something of a puzzle because he wasn’t a professional codebreaker and his role at Bletchley Park was actually much more limited than people might imagine. Can you comment on this? A Christmas classic, Miracle on 34th Street, provides a surprisingly realistic perspective on WWII refugees. Thanks! 945 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70130 Read more: info@nationalww2museum.org On the list were 24 academics from Cambridge and 13 from Oxford, and a handful of others, but it gives you an idea of the sort of people they thought would be useful. She worked at Bletchley Park in the section known as Hut 8 and quickly became the only female practitioner of Banburismus, a cryptanalytic process developed by Alan Turing which reduced the need for bombes —electromechanical devices as used by British cryptologists Welchman and Turing to decipher German encrypted messages during World War II. Well, as I mentioned, at the very beginning the recruitment was mainly focused on the academics at Oxford and Cambridge. By the winter of 1945, millions of American military personnel were on the move, but they were not alone. The coroner’s verdict found that he had taken his own life; there were reports that a partly eaten apple by his bed contained traces of cyanide. This essentially founded modern computer science. I reckon he took all that in his stride, and in fact it’s quite hard to find any causal links between his treatment, which finished in 1953, and his death in 1954. My own view from the people I spoke to who knew Alan and worked with him is that Alan Turing may have been eccentric, but a rather different and more human character than the asocial individual that he might seem to be from some portrayals in the movies. Bletchley drew together a wide mixture of civilian and service personnel in what was effectively a ‘green field’ organisation. The Bletchley Park Trust Bombe Rebuild Team, led by John Harper, is currently rebuilding the machine for display to the public later this year. We sat down with Sir John Dermot Turing, Alan Turing’s nephew and author of a new book on Bletchley Park, to … But, Christopher Grey stresses, “it certainly wasn’t the case that Turing alone cracked Enigma, any more than there was a single Enigma to be cracked”. Brigadier General Charles “Chuck” Yeager was best known as the first man to break the sound barrier, but during World War II Yeager was a decorated fighter ace. Everything you ever wanted to know about... a more integrated signals intelligence entity, Bletchley Park: Britain’s wartime intelligence factory, working in conditions of complete secrecy, Enigma before Bletchley: the German spies who betrayed Hitler. What were their backgrounds, their lives during the war? There weren’t many women on his list, but one of the interesting things is that that changed during the course of the war. We sat down with Sir John Dermot Turing, Alan Turing’s nephew and author of a new book on Bletchley Park, to discusses his uncle’s role pivotal role in computer science and his persecution for being gay in the 1950s. Mathematicians and communication specialists were brought together and it was here that the Enigma was cracked due to Alan Turing and his team. In the early days the total complement was a couple of hundred or so, but the success of the codebreaking effort was so great that the number of people grew enormously, to a peak of around 10,000 in 1944. But actually the myth can get in the way of reality at this point. Alan Turing - the Bletchley Park codebreaker - would have been 100 years old on 23 June had he lived to the present day. On 31 March 1952 at a court in Knutsford, Cheshire, Turing was charged with being “party to the commission of an act of gross indecency” – in effect, he was charged with being homosexual, says Joel Greenberg. - Attached in PDF format below. Dermot has a new book out, with the paperback version available in the United States in July 2020, titled The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park: The Secret Intelligence Station that Helped Defeat the Nazis. Why do you think that they went uncelebrated for so long? A stalemate on the Gustav Line in January 1944 brought about one of the more controversial Allied decisions of Italian campaign. I got to know him fairly well during the long weekend he visited, through meals, a private tour of our galleries and during the symposium itself. A brief biography, based on that formerly displayed in the ‘Hall of Fame’ in Bletchley Park mansion. Notes. Turing gave the earliest known lecture to mention computer intelligence in 1947. The changing role of women in British computing, “For Queen Victoria, food was a way of exploring the world”. During World War Two, Bletchley Park saw key advances in the development of computing, with Alan Turing and other leading scientists and mathematicians seeking faster ways of decoding German messages. To mark the occasion the BBC commissioned a … He played a vital role in breaking German codes during the Second World War, working with a team of colleagues including Dilly Knox, who had broken an Italian naval enigma cipher as early as 1937. Of course, there were some leaks and some spies, and the extent to which the secrecy surrounding Bletchley was not completely watertight is interesting. On January 3, 1946, ardent fascist and Nazi propaganda broadcaster William “Lord Haw-Haw” Joyce was executed following his conviction for treason. So then he was sent over to America to advise on the development in Dayton, Ohio, of the US Navy’s bombe machine, and to inspect various secret encryption devices being built at Bell Labs in New York. Bletchley Park: Britain’s wartime intelligence factory He was already working part-time for the British Government’s Code and Cypher School before the Second World War broke out. I think that quote is attributed to Winston Churchill, who had a special box of decrypts delivered to him every day. Alan Turing was a brilliant mathematician. Instead of imprisonment he opted for hormone ‘treatment’ – oestrogen injections that made him put on weight and enlarged his breasts. It’s difficult to be sure, because it was the 1940s, and in those days, roles were theoretically segregated by gender, and there were no women’s grades for codebreakers and analysts—so they had to be called ‘clerical’ or ‘translator’ or whatever, regardless of what they were actually doing. I believe most readers will know the overall significance of Bletchley Park and how it was “the Goose that laid the Golden Eggs” in terms of Allied intelligence against Nazi Germany. For the early part of the war he was head of Hut 8, working on decrypting the German Naval Enigma. It was commissioned by the American businessman and philanthropist Sidney Frank (1919–2006). And then there was the time when there was an inter-service athletics meeting and this civilian apparently called ‘Professor Turing’ asked to participate (he wasn’t a professor but that was his nickname). Ah, well, this is all about secrecy. After that, Alan Turing was only rarely at Bletchley Park, because he was working on his own speech encipherment device. But nevertheless Alan Turing was in a small way something of a minor celebrity because of his post-war work building the earliest British computers. Jeremy Collins joined The National WWII Museum in 2001 as an intern, and now oversees the institution’s public programming initiatives. He was succeeded in November 1942 by his deputy, Hugh Alexander. Tell us about the people—countless people—who played important parts to making Bletchley Park a success. This test examines a machine’s ability to demonstrate intelligent behaviour equivalent to or indistinguishable from a human. So there is a possibility that the reason Alan Turing got prosecuted for homosexual activity was connected with his being a semi-high-profile individual. For more information about Alan Turing, besides visiting Bletchley Park and the National Museum of Computing, you can also check out the Pilot Ace … By Alan Turing. A lot of these were from the Women’s Royal Naval Service (the Wrens)—you have a similar story in the US where the American bombe machines in Washington were tended by WAVES. The Death of a General: George S. Patton, Jr. Chuck Yeager: WWII Fighter Ace and Record Breaking Test Pilot. Alan Turing helped the British government pioneer the technology to decrypt Nazi Germany’s secret communications during World War II. Yes, it’s true that he was instrumental in designing the bombe machine on which the breaking of Enigma depended, and he was quite heavily involved in the attack on Naval Enigma in the early years of the war. At first he wanted to see every single decrypted message but rapidly the volume of stuff grew so much for that to be practical, so they just gave him the juicy bits. Well, of course there is nothing about the Bletchley years because of the Official Secrets Act, except for anecdotes. Read more: The official website for BBC History Magazine, BBC History Revealed and BBC World Histories Magazine, Save 50% on a BBC History Magazine or BBC History Revealed subscription, The Buckinghamshire estate of Bletchley Park was Britain's primary decryption establishment during the Second World War. No, thank you for the opportunity. But visitors to Bletchley Park want to know a bit more than the technicalities of code-breaking, Enigma machines and so forth—it’s people stories that chime best. But while Bletchley Park hero Alan Turing - who was punished by a post-war society where homosexuality was illegal and died at 41 - has been treated more … So of course all the super-fit army and navy men had a good laugh thinking about this professor chap who would be left well behind them all. Thank you for subscribing to HistoryExtra, you now have unlimited access. At Bletchley Park, attempts to decipher messages began. Everyone employed at Bletchley Park was told that they must never reveal anything of their work. Ada Lovelace: a visionary of computing. Turing started working on it in 1943 and demonstrated its mechanisms by encrypting and then decrypting one of Churchill's speeches, but the machine was never commissioned for use in the war effort. This includes his prosecution under the British anti-homosexual laws and his terribly depressing death. In typical Churchill fashion he would then surprise his chiefs of staff with things which they probably didn’t know. Trala súa graduación, von Neumann ofreceulle unha praza como asistente, pero Turing rexeitou a oferta e volveu a Gran Bretaña, onde obtivo outra bolsa que lle permitiu adicarse ao estudo da filosofía das matemáticas entre os anos 1938 e 1939. Tell us about Bletchley as an organization. This informed the work of Turing but also a team of colleagues including Dilly Knox, who had broken an Italian naval enigma cipher as early as 1937. You will shortly receive a receipt for your purchase via email. It can also be considered the birthplace of the electronic computer. But the Eric Jones who worked in secret at Bletchley Park in the 1940s is soon to be declared a figure of equal importance to Alan Turing. General George S. Patton, Jr., one of America’s greatest battlefield commanders, died on December 21, 1945 in an Army hospital in Heidelberg, Germany. Bletchley Park was the home of code breakers in England during the war. Here, we bring you the facts…. We have this idea that Alan Turing was hung out to dry by the British Establishment and that his conviction and treatment led directly to his suicide two years later. But how much do you know about the history of Bletchley Park and its most famous codebreaker, Alan Turing? At the Park, Alan Turing was asked to find a way to break Enigma messages. The evolution of British code-breaking That’s something which interests me, because it symbolizes what happened to a lot of women who discovered something about their abilities and personalities during the war years, but after the war the men took back the significant roles and many successful women found themselves sent back to the kitchen. The Office of Alan Turing, Head of Hut 8, recreated to how it would have looked in World War Two complete with a mug chained to the radiator. Dermot, thank you for agreeing to this interview. The challenge for a writer is then how to fit dozens of biographies together without making it too dense and tedious to read. So, we have a traditional picture of Bletchley being staffed by tweedy professors who smoked pipes and teenage Wrens doing mind-numbingly boring jobs, but actually it turns out to be more complicated than that. Alan Turing's efforts in cracking the German Enigma Code were also instrumental to the success of the war effort. The head of GC&CS, Alastair Denniston, referred to them as ‘men of the professor type,’ which is rather a quaint expression, but it gives a good flavor of it. So, nobody was allowed to talk about what they had done until many years afterwards, when the UK Government slowly began to relax the restrictions in the late 1970s. Bletchley Park is an English country house and estate in Milton Keynes (Buckinghamshire) that became the principal centre of Allied code-breaking during the Second World War.The mansion was constructed during the years following 1883 for the financier and politician Sir Herbert Leon in the Victorian Gothic, Tudor, and Dutch Baroque styles, on the site of older buildings of the same name. In 1945, Turing was awarded an OBE for his wartime services. Alan Turing had perhaps the most disparate difference between war time significance and post-war celebrity. With special thanks to experts from Bletchley Park, who contributed facts about Alan Turing ahead of the release of the 2014 film The Imitation Game, Save a huge 50% off a subscription to your favourite history magazine. In fact it’s more complicated than that. But we do have the accounts of the codebreakers themselves, and it’s quite clear that a large cohort was recruited from women’s colleges to do the same sort of jobs as the men. This worked on a factory-like basis to produce a continuous flow of useable intelligence. Watch Sir John Dermot Turing's lecture at the Museum's 2017 Winston S. Churchill Symposium at the link below. Alan Turing did his code-breaking at a legendary, top-secret establishment in England called Bletchley Park. So, if you look at his contribution in that context, it was quite limited in terms of scope and the amount of time he spent on codebreaking; but on the other hand, it was enormous, in terms of the sheer volume of decrypts and intelligence that came out of the processing of Enigma as a result of his invention of the bombe machine. Items belonging to World War Two Bletchley Park code-breaker Alan Turing that were stolen from the UK decades ago are to be returned from the US. When people arrived at Bletchley Park for the first time, there was a special ceremony where the importance of secrecy was drummed into their heads, and they were made to sign a document based on the Official Secrets Act, which said that severe criminal consequences would happen if anyone ever disclosed anything about what happened at Bletchley Park. Alan Turing is one of the most well-known codebreakers to have worked at Bletchley Park, partly due to the Oscar nominated film, The Imitation Game. Clarke's f… You felt a bit remiss that so many went unacknowledged as your uncle received all of the praise. It’s quite hard to figure out from the documents what the true picture was. Thank you very much for sharing these thoughts with us. e Hut 8 was a section in the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park (the British World War II codebreaking station, located in Buckinghamshire) tasked with solving German naval (Kriegsmarine) Enigma messages. Formed after the First World War from the codebreaking facilities at the Admiralty and the War Office, by 1939 GC & CS was part of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6), itself within the Foreign Office. Born in 1912, Turing studied mathematics at King’s College and afterwards he completed his PhD at Princeton in the US. Turing and Wittgenstein argued and disagreed, with Turing defending formalism and Wittgenstein propounding his view that mathematics does not discover any absolute truths, but rather invents them. In ordinary cases—and there were literally dozens of these in the courts at the time, this is the early 1950s—there would be one count on the indictment, but in Alan’s case there were six counts each against him and against his partner. Certainly that was part of it. Tell us about his wartime contributions, what he thought of his work, and what he thought of his own significance. Some of them became famous in other contexts—politicians, academics, writers and so on—and some stayed on and worked for what is now GCHQ; but a lot of the women at Bletchley went back into civilian life and to all intents and purposes disappeared. Royal Pigeon Racing Association exhibition, explaining the use of pigeons in WW2 Alan Turing's office was in Hut 8 1 / 4 The lectures have been reconstructed verbatim, including interjections from Turing and other students, from students' notes. I recall when you visited, one of the key points you stressed in private and during your public presentation was that Alan Turing didn’t do this all on his own. In 1952, Alan Turing was forced to endure chemical castration by the same government after being prosecuted for homosexual acts. He … You can unsubscribe at any time. There seems to be a problem, please try again. To start with, his ex-colleagues from Bletchley Park came to speak for his defense at the trial, and their testimony explained—without giving away any secrets—how significant Alan’s wartime contribution had been, and I think it was their intervention which stopped Alan going to prison or getting a formal criminal record (which would have cost him his job.). There’s also the fact that the origins of computing lie in the machines used to attack ciphers, and of course the present-day relevance of encryption to secure communications means that code-breaking and security are enduring concepts. Yes, this is a very perceptive question. The name Bletchley Park will forever be linked to WWII codebreaking exploits and revered as the birthplace of modern computing. Dermot Turing is the acclaimed author of Prof, a biography of his famous uncle, The Story of Computing, and most recently X, Y and Z – The Real Story of How Enigma was Broken. Turing arrived at Bletchley in 1939 and soon became the head of the Naval Enigma Team. For him, I think the codebreaking was a bit of an interlude in his career as a mathematician and computer scientist, and he would have been eager to deny that his own role at Bletchley was unduly significant. It was an outstation to the now renowned but then ultra secret Bletchley Park, the first place of its kind to use early computer technology to intercept and decode German signals, and the setting of a new film, The Imitation Game, about pioneering mathematician Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who helped to crack the Enigma code. The Museum had the pleasure of hosting Dermot Turing at our 2017 Winston S. Churchill Symposium. In 1952, Alan Turing was forced to endure chemical castration by the same government after being prosecuted for homosexual acts. As the leader of Einsatzgruppe D, Otto Ohlendorf was responsible for the murder of 90,000 Soviet Jews, Roma, and Communists. Mathematician Alan Turing Worked at Bletchley Park, and had a major influence in the field of computer science. One of those was a huge thing for enciphering phone-calls, so that Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill could speak freely without the Germans listening in. At its height in 1944, Bletchley Park employed close to 10,000 people, up to three-quarters of whom were women, performing a wide array of tasks. Turing obtivo o seu doutoramento en matemáticas en 1938. So visitors want to find out about everyday things like what the food was like and what happened to the codebreakers when the war ended. That meant that Bletchley Park itself was a building-site for much of the war, as new buildings had to be constructed to house all these extra folks. Dermot is a trustee of the Turing Trust. Bletchley Park, British government cryptological establishment in operation during World War II. He is considered the ‘father of modern computing’. The idea that the war was won not just on the battlefield but also by brainpower and that the enemy was defeated intellectually as well as physically is very appealing. Bletchley Park was the wartime home of the Government Code and Cipher School (GC & CS). During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre. One of the curious things is that Alan Turing is so closely identified with Bletchley Park, and in particular with the cracking of the Enigma cipher machine. More than 60,000 women wed by American servicemen during World War II hoped to leave their old homes behind and rejoin their husbands for a new life in the United States. I’m not sure this is the ideal way to run a war, but that wasn’t your question. Mixture of civilian and service personnel in what was effectively a ‘ green field ’ organisation GC! And enlarged his breasts influence in the field of computer science to coordinate continent-wide... S most important theoretical work ‘ on computable numbers ’ was written in 1936 personnel in what was effectively ‘... S secret communications during World war, Prof Ferris states that Bletchley could not get inside the Soviet.... In British computing, “ for Queen Victoria, food was a brilliant mathematician multimedia Charles. His PhD at Princeton in the way of reality at this point 1939 by Ludwig Wittgenstein about history! 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