Bletchley Park Museum
The Mansion, Bletchley, United Kingdom
www.bletchleypark.org.uk - 01908 640404
Bletchley Park Museum Reviews
Best use of my time in God-knows-how long. Talk about value for money infotainment! Apr 25, 2016
A couple of years ago when I saw the Imitation Game, I walked in knowing that it was all about code breaking, but seeing the movie, and the amount of work done in the pre-digital area simply blew my mind. It blew my mind all the more knowing it was a real incident. Despite having done several UK trips ever since, it never struck me until this trip to visit the place where the code breaking was done, and now a proper museum - Bletchley Park.
Getting here is relatively easy, it's an hour away from London by train and the park isn't more than a 10 minute walk. That said, I'd advise folks visiting to set aside a day. It's that good. And considering it isn't the cheapest in the world (£17 but valid for 12 months till purchase for reentry), I'd say be sure to make a day of it (literally speaking).
More to come...
Part of the England (Isle of Wight) travel blog
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The Home of World War Two Code Breaking Nov 27, 2014
Bletchley park, originally a gentleman’s country residence located just outside Milton Keynes, was the first large-scale code-breaking organisation in the world.
It was here that, during world War Two, an organisation called the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) studied and devised methods to enable the Allied forces to decipher military codes and so produce vital intelligence in advance of military operations.
The intelligence produced by Bletchley Park was code named ‘Ultra’. It played such a major role in winning World War Two that it is considered by historians to have shortened the war by up to two years and saved many lives.
At its height, just before the end of the war, over 8000 people worked at this top secret location.
BREAKING THE ENIGMA CODE AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE BOMBE
The Germans military used Enigma machines for coding battlefield, naval, and diplomatic communications. The machine enabled its operator to type a message, then ‘scramble’ it using a letter substitution system, generated by variable rotors and an electric circuit. To decode the message, the recipient needed to know the exact settings of the wheels.
Germany believed that its Enigma messages were unbreakable, but A brilliant young mathematician named Alan Turing devised a way to attack Enigma. This was based on the idea of using "known plain text" within the encoded message and using that text, or "crib" as a means of identifying the possible settings of the enigma wheels.
Turing helped design a cryptanalytical machine, known as the Bombe, which would carry out an automatic search to find all the possible Enigma settings and test them against the ‘crib’ . Once the machine found the settings which accurately matched the crib then all the messages sent with that setting could be easily deciphered.
Decoding Enigma allowed the allies to gather evidence of the planned invasion of Greece, and learn Italian naval plans for the Battle of Cape Matapan. The Allies also gained advantage in North Africa from deciphering Enigma coded messages used by Rommel’s Panzer Army.
BREAKING THE LORENZ CODE AND COLOSSUS
Enigma was not the only code used by the Germans during World War Two. In 1940 British radio operators began to intercept transmissions in enciphered teleprinter code. This code came from different types of German military cipher machines. One of these was used by Hitler and the German military high command. It was manufactured by the Lorenz engineering company in Berlin and code named ‘Tunny’.
The Lorenz machine was far more sophisticated than even the Enigma, having considerably more cypher wheels. Added to that no-one at Bletchley knew what the machine looked like. A brilliant young mathematician named Bill Tutte was assigned to investigate the Tunny code. amazingly, just with a pencil and a sheet of paper, he deduced the inner workings of the machine. This allowed a pseudo Lorenz to be constructed and set up to decode the Lorenz messages.
The code breakers in Bletchley Park broke the messages by hand for a year without machine assistance. Eventually Colossus, the first large-scale electronic digital computer, was developed at the park to assist with the code breaking. Thanks to Colossus, the park’s output of broken messages immediately doubled and continued to rise dramatically throughout the war.
Broken Lorenz messages supplied the allied high command with considerable quantities of vital intelligence as it carried information from the highest levels of German military command, giving insight into both Hitler’s thinking and German army strategy.
Lorenz de-crypts revealed information that changed the course of the war in Europe, in particular crucially assisting in D-Day operations. For example, the intercept message showed that Hitler believed the allied deception campaign and was convinced that the main allied attack would be at Pas de Calais rather than Normandy.
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