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Bletchley Park

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Bletchley Park is the home of British codebreaking and a birthplace of modern information technology. It played a major role in World War Two, producing secret intelligence which had a direct and profound influence on the outcome of the conflict. The site is now a museum and heritage attraction, open daily.

The Bletchley Park Podcast brings you fascinating stories from Veterans, staff and volunteers on the significance and continued relevance of this site today.
219 Episodes
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March 2021    In March 1946, as an ‘Iron Curtain’ was descending across Europe, in post-war London a document was signed that to this day is the basis of the most important and longest intelligence relationship that the UK has. But that Special Relationship with the USA didn’t suddenly begin 75 years ago; it was the culmination of five years of wartime collaboration.   In this episode Podcast Producer, Mark Cotton, and our Research Historian, Dr David Kenyon, go back to February 1941 and look at each of the milestones that led up to the signing of the UKUSA Agreement – five years that forged a Special Relationship.   Special thanks to Steven Eric Wilson and Mr Ben Thompson for voicing our archival documents.   Image ©Bletchley Park Trust 2021   #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2, #GCHQ,
February 2021    To keep you going during the lockdown, the podcast team will be bringing you a new episode every two weeks.   Last year we featured short clips from dozens of our Veterans telling us what they did on VE Day & VJ Day. Now in these Oral History Specials we can bring you the longer versions of those interviews, allowing our Veterans to tell their full story, in their own voices and in their own way.    Vital to us capturing these interview are a team of brilliant volunteers who visit our Veterans at home to record them. In this episode we join one of those Oral History Volunteers, Mike Chapman, who in 2017 travelled up to the Scottish Borders to interview Mary Sherrard. Mary recorded a fascinating and especially long interview with Mike which we are going to bring you in two parts.  In this first part Mary tells us about joining the Women’s Royal Naval Service and arriving at Bletchley Park in 1942.   Image ©Bletchley Park Trust 2021   #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2, #OralHistory,
February 2021    As we did last year we have decided to release extra content again during the current lockdown and so for at least the next couple of months we will be bringing you a new show every two weeks. These will be a mixture of Oral History Specials and also our regular content as and when COVID restrictions allow us.    Last year we featured short clips from dozens of our Veterans telling us what they did on VE Day & VJ Day. Now in these Oral History Specials we can bring you the longer versions of those interviews, allowing our Veterans to tell their full story, in their own voices and in their own way.    In early 2020, in what would become one the last interviews carried out just weeks before the pandemic, our Oral History Officer, Jonathan Byrne and his colleague Will Hankey sat down with GC&CS Veteran Tim Edwards. Previously we heard what Tim got up to on the day the war ended in Europe and now we can bring you much more of that interview. Tim’s reminisces about how the discovery of an eyesight problem suddenly stopped his training to be a pilot in the RAF and landed him at Bletchley Park working on German Air Force codes.     Image ©Bletchley Park Trust 2021   #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2, #OralHistory,
January 2021    As we release this episode Bletchley Park Museum is currently closed as the UK is in a national lockdown to help contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Our staff and volunteers like so many around the world are in lockdown, self-isolation or working remotely from home. Unfortunately it means the promised second part of our Q&A’s from our listeners is on-hold for now, but once we are safe to do so we will bring you that show.   As we did last year during the first lockdown we will endeavour to continue to bring you new episodes of the podcast. With that in mind we thought back to our VE & VJ Day episodes from last year which included very short clips from dozens of our more than 500 Oral History recordings. So until we can resume our ‘normal service’ it seems the perfect time to shine a light on our Veterans by bringing you the full versions of some of those interviews, in these Oral History Specials.   For the first of these special shows we have selected Sheila Wilson who came to Bletchley Park in 1944 to serve in the Naval Section plotting Allied shipping. A post-war career which included becoming a Psychotherapist has given Sheila a truly deep and at times existential view of her time at GC&CS. This makes her interview, which was recorded in 2015, simply fascinating. But first, before lockdown, we sat down with Jonathan Byrne to talk about why collecting the Oral Histories of our Veterans is so vitally important. Image ©Bletchley Park Trust 2021 #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2, #OralHistory,
E115 - Oral History 2020

E115 - Oral History 2020

2020-12-2201:07:39

December 2020    At the end of each year we like to focus on the important work that our Oral History Officer Jonathan Byrne and his team of staff and volunteers carry out. As with so many around the world, COVID-19 has had a huge effect on the work of Jonathan’s team in 2020.   In this episode we catch-up with Jonathan for an update on the Oral History Project and he shares four more highlights from our archive of 550 interviews.   Gwen Adsley was a civilian working in the Communications Section from 1942. Food, or the lack of it, is an abiding memory for her so being able to get an unexpected loaf of bread was a real pleasure.    Trixie Davison wanted to do her bit after the Blitz on London and become a Radar Operator so left her Civil Service job and joined the ATS. A problem with her eyesight meant she was transferred to work at Kedleston Hall and Forest Moor Y stations as an intercept operator.   Roy Maycock was 6 years old on the day that war was declared and living in what was then the village of Bletchley. During the war his family had both children evacuated from London and Bletchley Park staff billeted on them.   Molly Morgan wanted to serve her country, so defying her father’s wishes, resigned from her reserved occupation at The Bank of England and joined the WRNS. Instead of a posting by the sea she was sent to Buckinghamshire to work in the Naval Section alongside Frank Birch.    We would like to wish all our listeners a safe and Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year for 2021.    Image courtesy of Gwen Adsley #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2,
November 2020    For the first time since January 2020 the podcast team were able to be physically in the same room together, even if socially distanced. So to mark this return we decided to ask our listeners on social media for their questions about Bletchley Park.    In this, the first of these shows, Exhibitions Manager Erica Munro, Research Historian Dr David Kenyon, Research Officer Dr Thomas Cheetham and podcast producer Mark Cotton, will hopefully answer those questions and maybe do a bit of myth busting along the way.   Many thanks to our listeners and followers for setting us these challenges.   Special thanks, as always, go to Mr Ben Thompson for voicing our archival documents.   Image: ©Bletchley Park Trust 2020   #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2,
October 2020    For over 8 years the podcast has been privileged to receive help and support from the modern day version of the wartime Government Code and Cypher School, GCHQ, both as an organisation and from their Departmental Historian.    Previous listeners will know that GCHQ has a new Historian and in Podcast Episode 98, we had the honour of being able to exclusively reveal his identity when we met him at the GCHQ Centenary celebrations at the National Memorial Arboretum in November 2019.    We promised then that we’d catch up with him again, and this month we’re doing just that. Podcast producer Mark Cotton sat down with Dr David Abrutat, the recently avowed Departmental Historian at GCHQ, to find out about his life, his service and what he has planned for his “dream job”.    Image: ©GCHQ   #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2, #GCHQ,
September 2020    This is the last of three special episodes to mark what would have been our Annual Veterans Reunion.    It was due to COVID-19 restrictions and with huge regret that Bletchley Park Trust had to take the difficult decision not to hold this year’s reunion on-site. But here at the podcast we can still celebrate our Veterans with these special episodes.   At a reunion we like to capture as many Veterans stories as we can, but we also always remember that it is their special day and we try not to interrupt it too much for them. Some chats may just be a quick hello and how are you and some might end up with a short interview. But for some Veterans, it might be the first time they have been asked to talk about their vital war work and we are always honoured to be on hand to save their story for future generations.    In this, the last of these special episodes, we’re bringing you nearly 80 minutes from another 12 of our amazing Veterans, including a few of those longer interviews.   Featured in this episode, in order of appearance are:   Doris Moss Mollie Brewster Pamela Forbes Betty Webb Elizabeth Davies Marigold Angela Bostock-Wilson Diana Tyler Margaret Thomas Bartrum Robinson Edna Garbutt Pauline Lee Tom Howie   We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Veterans of Bletchley Park and its Outstations, for their service.   Special thanks to Katherine Lynch, Sarah Langston and Kerry Howard.    Image: ©Will Amlot for the Bletchley Park Trust 2020   #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2,
September 2020    As we explained in the last show, due to COVID-19 restrictions and with huge regret, Bletchley Park Trust had to take the difficult decision not to host our Annual Veterans Reunion onsite this year.   To continue to mark what would have been this year’s reunion, this is the second of three special episodes we will be bringing you this month, to still pay tribute to our Veterans.   Reunion is always the busiest day of the year for the podcast, catching up with old friends & rushing around trying to make sure that we can record as many Veterans as we can but it hasn’t just been our original co-host Katherine Lynch and producer Mark Cotton. We have also had help from a group of people we like to call our roving reporters. They are friends of the podcast who kindly give their time to help us allow the Veterans’, to tell their stories, in their own voices.    We want to thank everyone who has helped us at each reunion since 2012 but especially those featured in this episode, Sarah Langston, Kerry Howard, Astrid Specht, Helen Legh and of course Katherine Lynch.   The Veterans featured in this episode, in order of appearance are:   Flo Cole Cicely Anderson Mimi Gallilee Kay Wingate Nancy Clark Geoffrey Pidgeon Pat Davies Christine Brose Joan Smeaton Mary Heal Eric Dodd   We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Veterans of Bletchley Park and its Outstations, for their service.   Image: ©Will Amlot for the Bletchley Park Trust 2020   #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2,
September 2020    Each year, to mark the arrival of the Codebreakers to their war station in 1939, we hold our Veterans Reunion.    This is the highlight of our calendar year, and a really special occasion for all involved. Veterans can meet up with friends old and new and share stories of their vital and once top-secret wartime work. These events have taken on even more meaning in the past few years, for the Veterans, their families, and all those who work for Bletchley Park Trust today.   It is with huge regret that, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Bletchley Park Trust has taken the difficult decision not to host our Reunion onsite this year.   To mark what would have been this year’s reunion, this is the first of three special episodes we will be bringing you this month, not just the highlights of the last 8 years that the Podcast has attended but also from the very first Reunion in 1991, the one that started the campaign to Save Bletchley Park.   The Veterans featured in this episode, in order of appearance are:   Joan Clarke Derek Taunt Raymond Goodman Rosamond Twinn Rosemary Davidson Peter Twinn Rolf Noskwith Betty Webb Mary Watkins Joyce Bigoni Stanley Clegg Eric Hume Jeff Hoare Fred Terretta Audrey Hodges Jane Fawcett We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Veterans of Bletchley Park and its Outstations, for their service.   Special thanks to Katherine Lynch, Sarah Langston and Mr Ben Thompson.     Image: ©Will Amlot for the Bletchley Park Trust 2020   #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2,
E109 - VJ Day

E109 - VJ Day

2020-08-1501:04:24

August 2020   Nearly 3 months after VE Day, the war against Japan still continued. Its end would be drawn out over 6 weeks between the Potsdam Declaration in July and the final signing of the surrender on-board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September the 2nd.    During those weeks the world saw the use of a new weapon, the atom bomb and both Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be totally destroyed before World War Two would finally come to an end.   To commemorate VJ Day we present this special It Happened Here episode. Using archive recordings, a recreation of the memoir of Eric Norris and interviews with our Veterans from both our official Oral History Project and 8 years of podcasts, we hope to take you back to those momentous weeks in 1945.   10 of our Veterans will share their memories, both happy and sometimes poignant, of the beginning of the Atomic Age, the end of the war, VJ Day and looking forward to the rest of their lives. Featured in order of appearance are:   Sheila Willson Dennis Gilley Dr Michael Loewe Lady Marion Body Joyce Bogoni Joan Smeaton Dennis Underwood Betty Webb Gwendoline Page Margaret Thomas   We would like to take this opportunity to thank not just the Veterans of Bletchley Park and its Outstations, but all Veterans, for their service.    Very special thanks go to Mr Ben Thompson for voicing our archival documents.   Image: Wrens in London on VJ Day. With grateful thanks to Mrs Joan Smeaton.   #BPark, #WW2, #BletchleyPark, #BletchleyParkVJDay75, #VJDay75
July 2020    As COVID-19 struck we decided to start releasing these extra episodes to give you our listeners something extra each week while you were in lockdown. We are glad we could share so many previously unheard recordings that we just hadn’t been able to before and hopefully these shows have helped you through these extraordinary times, if even in a small way.    Over the next few episodes we shall start to return to our more normal podcast episodes and eventually our It Happen Here shows too.   It seems only fitting that as our last Intelligence Insight we look at how Bletchley Park has managed to finally reopen to the public. It’s been a long journey, which is still not over, but who better to hear from than some of our paid and volunteer staff who have made it happen.   Image: ©Bletchley Park Trust 2020   #BPark, #WW2, #BletchleyPark, #Enigma,
July 2020    Bletchley Park is an independent charity and so we rely on the ticket sales of our visitors for 95% of our operating costs, but another way to support the museum is to become a Friend of Bletchley Park.    As a friend of Bletchley Park you not only get our normal free unlimited year-round access to our heritage site and museum, but a range of other benefits including exclusive events, previews and discounts … all while knowing you are helping us to keep telling the story of the vital war winning work carried out by the men and women of The Government Code and Cypher School during WW2.   So in this episode we take you back to early 2018 and to one of those exclusive Friends talks from our very own Research Historian Dr David Kenyon. The Y Service was the organisation responsible for intercepting enemy wireless and radio communications with Y Stations based around the world. In his talk David focused on a smaller part of this organisation, the Coastal Y Service.    In the Q&A that follows his talk, who better to help him than Pat Davies who from 1942 – 1945 was one of those Intercept Operators for the Royal Navy. Post war Pat had an astonishing career as a journalist, documentary maker and television producer. In June 2019 the French Government awarded her the Legion d'honneur.   Image: ©Bletchley Park Trust 2020   #BPark, #WW2, #BletchleyPark, #Enigma,
July 2020    In this episode we are staying with Dermot Turing & his wider family. First we go back to a very cold day in March 2015 when more than twenty members of Alan Turing’s family gathered at Bletchley Park to pay tribute to their famous ancestor. The Imitation Game had been released only a few months earlier, so to have so many Turing’s in one place, at the same time, meant the worlds press turned up too & so the perfect opportunity for Dermot to launch the fundraising campaign for the restoration of Hut 11a.    Then we will return to Hut 11a exactly 3 years later & the official opening of The Bombe Breakthrough. In the very building that housed the Bombe Machines during World War Two the exhibition tells the entire story for the first time. From the earliest work by Polish Codebreakers using mathematics & machines, through Alan Turing & Gordon Welchman’s famous invention, to finally producing war winning intelligence for the Allies. You will hear from the people involved with creating the exhibition, VIP’s & guests, including some of our specially invited Veteran’s.       * Producers Note * Bletchley Park will be safely reopening to visitors on Saturday the 4th of July. All visitors must pre-book online, including Friends or Annual Season Pass holders. Please head to the Bletchley Park website for the latest information.   Image: ©Bletchley Park Trust 2020   #BPark, #WW2, #BletchleyPark, #Enigma, @PolishEmbassyUK
June 2020    This week we return for the second and final time to the 2018 launch of Dermot Turing’s book, X, Y and Z: The Real Story of How Enigma Was Broken. It’s a story of international cooperation, spanning many years and for the first time tells of how the French, British and Polish secret services came together to unravel the secrets of the Enigma machine.   At the launch Dermot was joined by Nathalie Genet-Rouffiac, the Curator of Heritage for the French Ministry of the Armed Forces and GCHQ Historian Tony Comer. To finish this episode we have highlights from the Q&A Session that all three joined, which ended the day.   But first we return to Dermot’s talk. In the last episode we left the Polish Codebreakers, enjoying life, living in a Chateau, working for the French. He now completes the story of what happened to them following the Allied landings in North Africa in late 1942 as the Germans rushed to occupy Vichy France.   Image: ©Bletchley Park Trust 2020   * Producers Note * While we are still in these exceptional times, we will continue to produce these Intelligence Insight episodes, switching to one every two weeks from now. We are also looking forward to bringing you new episodes in our It Happened Here series as soon as we are able to. In the meantime, please follow Bletchley Park on social media and visit the website for the latest information on plans to safely reopen, thank you.   #BPark, #WW2, #BletchleyPark, #Enigma, @PolishEmbassyUK
June 2020    The breaking of the German Enigma machine wasn’t just down to the Codebreakers at Bletchley Park and it didn’t start with the outbreak of World War Two. It’s a story of international cooperation, spanning many years and who better to tell it than the nephew of Alan Turing.    In this, the first of two episodes, we return to 2018 when Bletchley Park hosted representatives of the Polish Embassy in London and families of Polish codebreakers, for the launch of Dermot Turing’s book, X, Y and Z: The Real Story of How Enigma Was Broken.   Based on his own original research and newly released documents, both in the book and this exclusively recorded talk, Dermot tells the story of how the French, British and Polish secret services came together to unravel the secrets of the Enigma machine.    He is introduced by His Excellency the Ambassador of Republic of Poland, Dr Arkady Rzegocki.   Image: ©Bletchley Park Trust 2020   #BPark, #WW2, #BletchleyPark, #Enigma, @PolishEmbassyUK
June 2020    This week we return for the last time to the Bill Tutte symposium that was held at Bletchley Park in 2017, the centenary of his birth.    In this episode we bring you the closing address of the day given by our then Chairman, Sir John Scarlett. But before that we have the final speaker of the day, the BBC’s Security Correspondent, Gordon Corera, here for the first time in full.   The work that Bill did at Bletchley Park would help lead to the creation of the cutting edge technology of the Colossus Computer. Therefore it was fitting that in his talk Gordon looked for the connecting threads between then and now, between maths and machines, computers and people.    Image: ©Bletchley Park Trust 2020   #BPark, #WW2, #BletchleyPark, #Enigma, #Tunny
May 2020    We return in this episode to the Bill Tutte symposium that was held at Bletchley Park in 2017, on the centenary of his birth. Again we bring you one of the many talks given that day, but for the first time in full.   Bill Tutte’s breaking of the Lorenz machine led to the Codebreakers at Bletchley Park being able to read the messages being sent between Hitler, the German High Command and the Generals in the field. In his talk our Research Historian Dr David Kenyon, looked at why this was so important to the Allied planners. Focusing specifically on how intelligence derived from Tunny decrypts played a role in D-Day, he asked the question “How Fishy was Ultra?”   To find out even more about the work of The Western Front Committee and the planning for D-Day, why not go back and listen to Episode 88 The Tide of Victory, where we looked at this in even greater detail.   Image: ©Bletchley Park Trust 2020   #BPark, #WW2, #BletchleyPark, #Enigma, #Tunny
May 2020    In this episode we stay with the attack on the Lorenz code that Bill Tutte played such an important part in, with a first-hand account.   Captain Jerry Roberts worked with Bill Tutte in The Testery cracking, what they called Tunny, the German High Commands code, used by Hitler & his top Generals. Jerry tells us what it was like to work in The Testery, why breaking Tunny was so important to the ultimate Allied victory and of his 3 Heroes of Bletchley Park.   Jerry’s was the last of a day of talks held in 2012 as part of the celebrations of Alan Turing’s Centenary. The introduction is by Lord Charles Brocket who acted as master of ceremonies for the day.    In memoriam, Captain Jerry Roberts MBE (1920-2014)   Image: ©mcfontaine   #BPark, #WW2, #BletchleyPark, #Enigma, #Lorenz, #Veteran
May 2020    In this episode we again return to the Bill Tutte symposium that was held at Bletchley Park in 2017, on the centenary of his birth.    As a member of the Bill Tutte Memorial Fund Claire Butterfield had by 2017 spent 4 years campaigning for more recognition for the little-known mathematical genius. For the first time we can bring you Claire’s entire talk that opened the day and in it she explores Bill’s entire life and work.     Image: ©Bletchley Park Trust 2020   #BPark, #WW2, #BletchleyPark, #Enigma, #Tunny
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