If any place deserves to be noted for its historical significance it is Bletchley Park
, 53 miles northwest of London. This is the
place during World War II where the British broke the German code which was produced by a very complicated mechanical device that
became known as the Enigma machine
. There seems to be no question about the assertion that the breaking of this code helped shorten
Bletchley Park was a private estate owned by a British Admiral Sir Hugh Sinclair, who bought it for the purpose of
solving the code. The British government would not purchase it. The effort, which employed 9000 people at its height, took place in
buildings constructed on the grounds of the estate and was managed from administrative offices in the estate's mansion.
of the code became possible when earlier efforts to break the German code by the Polish government were communicated to British Intelligence.
The British took up the effort until they were successful. Americans were invited in and participated. A wireless listening
station was set up enabling the monitoring of communications by the German military. Intercepted messages were decrypted
and sent on to the appropriate British and American military units.
The station operated under strict security which by all accounts
was successfully maintained. The very existence of the work that was ongoing there was not known by most people until long after
the war ended. An example of how strictly security was maintained, even after the war, is revealed in the following story
told to us by a tour guide at the facility. Once, an elderly married couple took the same tour and at one point the woman pointed
to a work area and said, "That's where I worked." Her surprised husband did a double take and blurted out, " What? You
worked at Bletchley? I did too!" Both had taken the admonition to keep mum so seriously that they never told one another
about their work during the war.
The tour there covers the flow of the work, breaking the code, to how the Enigma machine worked,
the development of the early computers that were used in the effort, and the major buildings. One of the highlights of the tour
is a display of some of the key messages that were decoded that played a large role in the successful outcome of the war.