Sunday, 12 October 2014

Enigma and codebreaking


Last week I went along to the Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society meeting to hear Dr Mark Baldwin talk about the Codebreakers who worked in the time leading up to WW2 and just after. This was a fascinating talk concentrating on the people who worked at Bletchley Park, the “X” station, and of some of the work that went on at the “Y” stations. The Bletchley Park website contains a comprehensive history: Follow the links below, or simply click the links on the website:  

The Bletchley Park story, part 1

The Bletchley Park story, part 2

The Bletchley Park story, part 3

The Bletchley Park story, part 4

The Bletchley Park story, part 5

The Bletchley Park story, part 6

Dr Baldwin and his wife are publishers of books on the topic of enigma, codebreakers and WW2, and, of course, I couldn’t resist buying one of them! Not knowing much about the topic, I plumped for the one that they recommended for those who were only going to buy one book!

Dr Baldwin's boolist

After the talk, we were all able to look at the enigma machine that Dr Baldwin had brought with him: Fascinating! And just as fascinating to learn that his machine will be starring in a forthcoming film – “The imitation game” – released in early November.
Dr Baldwin's publishing company

Of course, this isn’t the end of the story, and as so often happens to me, there’s a coincidence to tell you about! So, on the following Thursday my son asked me to give him and some friends a lift to the golf driving range on the A6 towards Hathern. First we collected his friend who lives off Allendale Road, then we picked up the two who live in Thorpe Acre, before driving to the range.

You may be wondering where I’m going with this …

I’ve picked the first friend up a couple of times, now, and always forget how to get there, even though it’s not really that difficult! This time, however, I could be forgiven, because they’ve built some more houses on that estate and they happen to be opposite our friend’s house. Well, I must have sat in the car waiting only for a few minutes, but for some inexplicable reason I looked at the name of the road, and while we were driving out of the estate, I also noticed some of the others, and asked our friend who these people were.

Part of the Beaumanor Estate

If you think about where this estate is, and the fact that it is very close to Mucklin Wood, and thence to Beaumanor Hall, then you might not be surprised to learn that some of the road names in this estate are actually the names of codebreakers, many of whom were stationed at Bletchley Park! Having listened to Dr Baldwin’s talk, I now know that Beaumanor Hall was what acted as a “Y” station during WW2, and was in regular contact with Bletchley Park.

So, the streets on the Allendale estate include:

Alan Turing Road -

Alan Turing worked at Bletchley Park during WW2, moving to the National Physics Laboratory and then Manchester University after the end of the war. Turing died of cyanide poisoning in 1954 at the age of 42.

Peter Laslett Close  -

Peter Laslett worked at Bletchley Park during WW2, and afterwards became a lecturer at Cambridge after doing a period of research there. He retired from his post as Reader in Politics and the History of Social Structure at Cambridge n 1983. He played an important part in the formation of the university of the third age. He died in 2001 at the age of 85.  

Hugh Foss Drive –

Hugh Foss was a cryptographer and worked at Bletchley Park and retired from GCHQ in 1953. He was interested in Scottish dancing and created a number of such dance routines. He died in 1971 at the age of 71.

Leslie Yoxall Drive –

Leslie Yoxall was a codebreaker at Bletchley Park during WW2, after which he joined GCHQ, retiring in 1974. He died in 2005 at the age of 91.

Knox Drive –

Dilly Knox worked as a codebreaker in WW1, and continued to do so, working at Bletchley Park, during WW2 until his death in 1943 at the age of 59.

This estate is not yet complete, so I shall be visiting again, looking out for more roads named after the codebreakers of WW2 – maybe a Welchman Way, a Jeffreys Street, or a Twinn Road!
There’s plenty of information available on the internet if you want to know more about enigma, codebreakers, or the individuals named above.

That’s all for today! Hopefully, see you next week!

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