Friday 13th visit to Bletchley Park

As we were heading home yesterday after the fireworks we saw three fire engines heading towards the centre of town, sirens blaring. Friday morning Stephen read in the paper than there had been children who had their hair burnt slightly from the fireworks – little bits landing on their heads. We were right underneath, but the wind was blowing it mostly away from us, though I felt it a little. A safety issue that they could have thought about before launching fireworks over people’s heads?

Office in The Mansion, BP
Office in The Mansion, BP

It was sunny when we got up yesterday, very cheery. We were out of here by about 9.15 and were able to catch a direct train to Bletchley at about 10.15 a.m. The weather was colder, but partly sunny.

We enjoyed the day very much. We have seen The Imitation Game, and read books about the code breaking at Bletchley Park, so it was incredibly interesting to see the place. A lot of careful restoration has been going on, and there were quite a few visitors – interesting considering the time of year. It is a lovely setting, and amazing to think of all the people involved in making things work.

The Mansion on the site is a particularly beautiful house, with rooms set up to show what went on during the war. One of the rooms was a normal room with with stained glass windows in the roof letting in natural light.

The huts where people mostly worked were long and narrow, and where the Bombes did their work, they were quite stuffy. Interesting that the women working on intercepting wireless signals (at different locations) were required to really use their intelligence, yet this appears to have been scarcely acknowledged at the time.

We watched a demonstration of the setting up of a Bombe, though the mathematical reasoning went mostly over my head. We also bought a book by Dermot During which helps. Nevertheless, the demonstration was very interesting and the presenter was doing his best to simplify things for us.

Overall an amazing experience. At the end of the day after getting home, we began to read reports of the terrorism in Paris. A thought I can’t help having is that given the amazing work done all those years ago, why are we still missing things. The planning and co-ordination that went into these attacks must have created some noise, and with all the surveillance that happens these day of ordinary citizens, why was it not picked up? We know that the decision makers in the UK during the war had to make some very hard decisions about acting on the information provided out of Bletchley Park. If they could not come up with a cover story of how the information could have been obtained (other than code breaking) they couldn’t do anything without letting the enemy know they were able to read their signals. Was something like that happening here?

I also think of the countries of Europe coping with hundreds of thousands of people seeking refuge from Syria and other countries. They have been far more welcoming and accomodating than Australia with our terrible offshore camps. Yet, this can still happen. I feel so sad about it.

Entrance to Bletchley Park
Entrance to Bletchley Park

IMG_1055

The Lake at BP
The Lake at BP

The Mansion at BP - overview

The Mansion at BP
The Mansion at BP
The Bombe used in the movie The Imitation Game
The Bombe used in the movie The Imitation Game
The rear of the Bombe used in the demonstration in the Museum at BP
The rear of the Bombe used in the demonstration in the Museum at BP

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