At the end of last month (or the last decade!), I went to the small, yet famous, Bletchley Park; most commonly recognised from World War II and the film ‘The Imitation Game’ featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley (which is also one of my favourite films).
Normally I don’t do spontaneous very well, however I decided to go with my family. Bletchley Park is towards the South of Milton Keynes; upon arrival I was surprised to see it surrounded by countryside, yet houses right next to the area.
Bletchley Park played a significant part in winning World War II, but was kept secret at the time and home to Codebreakers trying to crack the German-Nazi code; Enigma, comprised of the 26 letters of the alphabet.
It was bitterly cold throughout the day, however it was crisp and dry to tour the area and read the various bits of information and artefacts scattered around, where much of it has either been demolished or restored – such as the Huts.
What remains of Bletchley Park summarises a brief moment in time to change history and the outcome of WW2 for Britain, supposedly shortening it by 2 to 4 years. Once entering the main building at the Park, we watched the welcome videos and some replica Engima machines.
The audio guide pack and map (which was included with our ticket) was very helpful to help us move around the park; we spent nearly 5 hours there. Part of the route included the famous park Mansion, as well as the cottages where some of the codebreakers would have lived.
To my ignorance, it appeared that breaking Engima didn’t solely lie on Turing’s actions; the other codebreakers involved were Tommy Flowers, Gordon Welchman and W.T. Tutte.
We toured some of the huts including 6 and 8, where mathematician Alan Turing led his team to break some of the first Enigma codes.
Huts 11A and 11 unveiled a replica of a ‘Bombe machine’ used to break the Nazi codes, including a brief video of how it would have worked.
In the Teleprinter Building, was a mini-movie: ‘D-Day: Interception, Intelligence, Invasion’. It showed what happened between 1939 and 1945, describing the impacts of WW2 in Britain and how important Bletchley’s role was during the time.
Tucked away in one of the buildings, below ground level, was a museum displaying different cipher machines and some of the codebreakers’ lives, including Alan Turing and how intelligence has since progressed to GCHQ.
It was a tiring, yet interesting day at Bletchley Park, with a calm evening drive home. World War history has always fascinated me, as there is always something that pops up that you didn’t realise, especially as it affected so many people in different ways, even until now.
Have a visit!