Christopher, the bombe

Christopher, the bombe

If you have seen the film The Imitation Game, then you have to go to Bletchley Park where the Second World War cryptography project took place. It was a village of people employed to break codes. Everyone had to sign up to the Official Secrets Act and agree not to tell a soul !

I don’t know which of two things I was most excited about seeing: the bombe, which was called Christopher in the movie. In fact, it was artistic license, but I keep referring to it as Christopher anyway. It gives the whirling wheels a personality. Or the Engima machines, of which there were several behind glass cases, including one that belonged to Mussolini.

I read about code breaking – The Code Book by Simon Singh – years before the movie. But I have to say that the film’s acclaim has brought positive effects, in spite of the criticism about its historical accuracy. As we speak, Bletchley Park is undergoing a much-needed rejuvenation.

It was lovely to soak up the atmosphere and learn about the conditions in which the employees worked. The grounds are lovely. You can have a look into Alan Turing’s (re-constructed) office. The huts are informative and there are lots of interactive games for adults and children. My special tip is – don’t miss out on the intriguing stories of spies and double agents.

~ Spotted Cow

Codes !

Hut 12

Mussolini's Enigma machine

Enigma machine

5. Code breaking

Banbury sheets

Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge

Picture 5/Story 5

I visited Bletchley Park and spent an interesting day immersed in ciphers, codes and Enigma machines.

The picture above is a Banbury Sheet.  It was women’s work to punch holes into the Banbury Sheets according to the Enigma message they had to hand. The trick – as invented by Alan Turing – was to try and find similar sequences on two different sheets, which would suggest that they both have the same Enigma machine setting.

What amazed me was that, at its peak Bletchley Park employed 9000 people engaged in breaking codes for the war effort … and it was a secret that none of them could tell their family or friends.

~ Spotted Cow

The rules of Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge require you to post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo (It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or simply a short paragraph) and then nominate another blogger to carry on this challenge. Do try it !