Bletchley Park was the setting for Britain’s Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), which regularly cracked the cyphers of Nazi Germany during World War Two. Bletchley Park’s codebreakers are credited with shortening the war, even though much of it remained secret until 1974, when the public was told more about what went on at this Buckinghamshire mansion.
In 1938 the government bought Bletchley Park as a base for the Government Code and Cypher School. The Secret Service ran the 581-acre estate. The rambling house could not all of the people who worked there, so huts were dotted around the estate, each with their own specialisation.
This top secret code=breaking base was an invaluable part of the war effort. but its success relied heavily on its secrecy. Thus the intelligence Bletchley produced was considered wartime Britain's "Ultra secret" – higher even than the normally highest classification Most Secret.
Since the 1970s, the work carried out at Bletchley Park has become well known: the house has become a museum and Hollywood film have been made about the work there.
Many of the mathematicians who worked at Bletchley Park were recruited from Cambridge and Oxford. Keith Batey was a notable code breaker from Cambridge University.
Many at Bletchley Park were puzzled by the German ‘Enigma’ machine. Properly used, the German Enigma and Lorenz ciphers should have been virtually unbreakable, but flaws in German cryptographic procedures, and poor discipline among the personnel carrying them out, created vulnerabilities that codebreakers exploited. However, once the ‘Enigma’ code was cracked, the codebreakers at Bletchley Park were able to forward a German secret message to the Allies in the field before it reached the Germans. As a result, Allied military planners in the field could better prepare for a suspected German attack.
Bletchley Park’s famous codebreakers included William Tutte, Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman and Tommy Flowers. They worked together to design the Bombe computer, which had the potential to crack any Enigma code.
When the war in Europe ended in May 1945, the work at Bletchley Park was redirected towards the Soviet Union and used during the Cold War.
See also: The Lorenz SZ40
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