Search

Code-cracking secrets of Bletchley Park shared at Hornchurch Library

18:00 15 June 2014

blah blah, this won

blah blah, this won't owrk unless i write something...

Archant

The secrets of code breaking were revealed during a not so secret talk by a member of the Bletchley Park Trust last week.

blah blah, this won't owrk unless i write something...blah blah, this won't owrk unless i write something...

Second World War anoraks, maths whizzes and puzzle experts turned up to Hornchurch Library in their droves for a D-Day inspired event hosted by Tom Briggs,

Armed with a real enigma machine, he demonstrated how staff at the top-secret base cracked German codes, which is thought to have helped cut the length of the war by two years.

“It went really well,” said Tom, who used to run code-cracking classes as a Maths teacher. “They were a really good audience, really responsive.

“I gave them some codes to decipher while I spoke to them, Some rose to the challenge, and some didn’t. Adults can get a bit defensive about it, but some of them absolutely love having a go.”

The machine, an electro-mechanical device which scrambles a plain text message into ciphered text, was invented by a German engineer at the end of the First World War and adopted by the German Navy and Army in the 1920s, and the German Air Force in the 1930s. It was also used by the railways and other government departments.

Bletchley Park, a stately home 40 miles north of London, was used as the base for a group of scientists, mathematicians and chess-masters to intercept and break the codes.

In May 1938, admiral Sir Hugh Sinclair, head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) bought the mansion for use by Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) and SIS in the event of war.

One of the most famous names to work there was Alan Turing, who led Hut 8, responsible for decrypting the German naval Enigma, and developed the bombe, a refinement of a Polish cipher-breaking machine, named the cryptologic bomb.

“He is the one everybody knows,” said Tom. “But there were about 10,000 people working there who did just as much work, like Gordon Welchman [who developed an advancement to Turing’s bombe].

Tom also spoke abou the Battle of the Atlantic, when the Bletchley Park team were faced with cracking an “unbreakable” cipher developed by the German naval engima.

After retrieving data from the German U-Boat, U-110, in May 1941, the code-crackers were able to read German communications and re-route convoys around the U-Boats, whose position they had learned. Merchant ship losses dropped by more than two-thirds as a result of their work.

The fascinating tales captured the imagination of the 90 plus people in attendance at the North Street library, with many staying behind for an in-depth question and answer session.

“I didn’t think I was ever going to get to leave,” joked Tom. “They were really interested. There were so many questions, it was really good.

“You go to some talks and there’s one or two questions but at Hornchurch it wasn’t like that. It makes you feel like you have done your job properly.”

Did you attend the talk on Friday? Let us know your thoughts by emailing sam.gelder@archant.co.uk

Latest Romford News Stories

Yesterday, 17:00
Charlie Kutyauripo, 16, who was stabbed to death in Woodford Bridge. Photo: @MostAuthentic

A teenager who stabbed his former friend to death outside a 16th birthday party told the Old Bailey he did it “to protect” himself.

Yesterday, 15:15
The final group with Matthew, Keon and Aiden with their respective parents Frank, Phil and Peter.

Families squared off on the courts as an annual tennis competition got underway last weekend.

Yesterday, 14:08
George Wood (Charity Chairman), Matthew Hopkins (Chief Exec), Christopher Westcott, Sarah Sadan (Lead Biomedical Scientist), Len Kemp (General Manager of Pathology) and Chris holding his gift

It’s more common to receive gifts when you retire but a departing biomedical scientist has reversed the present giving with a generous donation.

Yesterday, 11:10
Tricia Dear, mother of 16-year-old Paddy Dear who died after falling down a cliff on his school trip.

The mother of a 16-year-old boy, who died on a geography school trip, has spoken about the tragedy in the hope of raising awareness of sepsis.

Yesterday, 10:31
Coaches from West Ham visiting Elm Park Primary school,

Primary school pupils were delighted to discover coaches for West Ham’s under-21 team in their classroom yesterday.

Yesterday, 09:33
Christopher Holt, 58, died of his injuries four days after being hit by a car at the junction between Rainham Road and Sowrey Avenue.

A 58-year-old cyclist has died of his injuries four days after a fatal collision with a car in Rainham.

Yesterday, 07:00
Poundland owned 99p Store in High Street, Hornchurch. Picture: Google Street View

High street shoppers have been heading for the exit of a Poundland store because of a stench caused by dead rats.

Wed, 16:36
Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) visited The Campion School to screen pupil's hearts for possible undetected defects. Tony Hill, family screening manager, Peter Patterson and Dr Rajay Narain

A father who lost his son to an undiagnosed heart condition returned to a school, last week, with free heart screening treatment.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

Win a BMW 1 series

There are fewer cars currently on the market more stylish and exciting than the BMW. Known all over the world as one of the best car manufacturers, the BMW is renowned for sleek designs and fantastic high quality workmanship.

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe