Bletchley park; a review of the sacred grounds occupied by the WW2 code breakers.
As most members of the LGBT community and computer nerds alike know, Bletchley park was the site used in the war effort by the famous Alan Turing and other code breakers. Turing was a gay man who managed to break the enigma code meaning Britain knew the secret German messages aired via radio allowing them to be one step ahead of the Germans. Turings computing efforts meant that the war was shortened by two years, which meant a lot of lives were spared. After the war Turing was outed as homosexual and was given the choice between imprisoned and chemical castration. He chose castration because he was passionate about his computing work – work which has shaped modern computing and has changed the world as we know it. Unfortunately Turing took his life due to the after effects of the castration.
Bletchley park is situated in Milton Keynes, rural England. As we arrived at the gates, it was not obvious that we had arrived in the correct location. It was clear that even today the park is a shrouded secret. The park consists of a mansion, a lake and many huts surrounding the site in which the code breakers worked in. Just being in the grounds where men and women alike helped end the war through intelligence alone is a humbling experience. They were the techie ‘silicone valley’ nerds of their era, workers recall most of the men who worked there being ‘eccentric’ and ‘borderline genius’ with some cycling around the park wearing their gas masks to avoid hay-fever allergies. Through photos and memoirs we found that the employees of Bletchley park were like one big family living on the site during the space of the war.
The museum of computing is also on the site containing a working replica of Colossus which was quite a sight seen as Winston Churchill ordered all machines to be destroyed after the war. The rebuild was done using replica parts, using a few surviving photos and through the memory of the remaining programmers who worked there at the time. Other machines included ‘Bombe’ and numerous types of German engima machines. Other humbling sights included Turings work space, Churchill artefacts and much more. A Churchill quote that completely summed up my view on the work of the code breakers is:
“They were geese that laid the golden eggs, but never cackled”.
What a marvellous bunch of human beings they were.
SQwears rating: 10/10