One of the great stories of World War II, and one that remained hidden for many years, was that of Bletchley Park, the unassuming Buckinghamshire country house where Alan Turing cracked the Nazis’ Enigma code and simultaneously invented modern computing. At its height some 12,000 people worked at Bletchley Park, some 80% of them women. Here is a Telegraph article on a recent reunion of a group of Wrens who operated the Colossus computer.
They may be fewer in number and older in years, but the pride in their expressions is undimmed by the passing years.
Some of the last of the band of women who helped to crack Nazi codes as part of Britain’s war effort have been reunited for the first time in 70 years.
The women, who were then only in their late teens, used Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer, to decipher messages exchanged by Hitler’s generals.
Now, after a photograph of their team of codebreakers appeared in the Telegraph, they have been reunited at Bletchley Park for the first time since the end of the war.
The photograph, which broke secrecy rules, was kept hidden in a desk draw for decades by Joanna Chorley. She discovered it shortly before the 70th anniversary of Colossus, in February.
The 88-year-old was part of the Colossus C watch at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire in 1945, and was pictured alongside almost 40 female colleagues at Woburn Abbey, where they were housed.
Their identities had been closely guarded secrets but now six surviving members of the group, all members of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (Wrens), have been reunited. The gathering was coordinated by the National Museum of Computing after the women got in touch having seen the photograph.