Posts Tagged ‘codebreakers’

Polish codebreakers ‘cracked Enigma before Alan Turing’

February 21st, 2016

By the time war broke out the Germans had increased the sophistication of the machine and the Poles were struggling to make more headway. But based on the Polish knowledge, Turing managed to build a huge computer that would finally crack the cipher.

However, despite their help, history and Hollywood has largely ignored their role. The most recent film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, barely mentioned the Poles.

Now the Polish government has launched a touring exhibition entitled “Enigma – Decipher Victory” to remind the world of their crucial contribution. They have already taken the exhibition to Canada and Brussels.

Maciej Pisarski, deputy chief of mission, Polish Embassy in Washington, said: “The story of Engima was very important to us and the breaking of Enigma code was one of the most important contributions of Poland to the Allies victory during the Second World War.

“Out contribution to Enigma is something that we learned a lot about as children in Poland but we have a feeling that the knowledge is not so widespread. It was a crucial association which gave the allies the edge over the Germans.

“We were trapped on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War which meant we did not get the credit that we should have received and nobody wanted to admit that anyone in Eastern Europe had anything to do with Enigma.

“We felt it was important to fill in the blanks. It is our moral obligation to right this wrong and put this picture in a more complete way.”

The Enigma machine was invented by German engineer Arthur Sherbius at the end of the First World Wat and were used by the military and government of several countries. The British had struggled to work out how to crack the early Enigma machines, and by the early 1930s the Poles were way ahead.

Poland’s main codebreakers were Jerzy Rozycki, Henryk Zygalski and Marian Rejewski who joined the Polish General Staff’s Cipher Bureau in Warsaw.

While Britain still used linguists to break codes, the Poles had understood that it was necessary to use mathematics to look for patterns and had broken some of the early pre-war German codes.

They had then taken a further step by building electro-mechanical machines to search for solutions, which they called “bombes”.

On the eve of war in 1939 Bletchely codebreakers Alastair Denniston and Dilly Knox met with members of the Cipher Bureau at a secret facility in a forest in Pyry near Warsaw to share their knowledge.

Alan Turing, also later visited the Polish codebreakers and used their knowledge to develop his own “bombe” capable of breaking the more complex wartime Enigma codes.

But the Poles have received little credit, most notably in the recent film The Imitation Game, where their contribution was dismissed with a single sentence.

Dr Grazyna Zebrowska, science and technology advisor for the Polish Embassy in Washington, said: “I think the real story has been lost over time.

“The Polish involvement was well known during World War Two but during the communist time it was not so convenient to admit that there had been so much cooperation between Britain and Poland. It was a very special and very secret alliance.

“The Imitation Game film is all about Turing and everyone in Britain and it is just meant to be a short space of time, but I think there was an audible sigh in Polish cinemas when our contribution was reduced to just one line.

“We’re hoping this exhibition will show the work of the Polish mathematicians.”

Codebreakers at Bletchley Park, 1942

Speaking about The Imitation Game, Pisarski, added “I am sure it is a very good movie but I don’t think it tried to tell the whole story.

“We want to present a more complete picture of the past. It’s important to do justice to the people involved but to underline and underscore the strong cooperation between Britain and Poland when it came to Enigma.”

Polish pilots had the highest kill rates in the Battle of Britain, Polish troops fought in the North African, Italian and Normandy campaigns, and were involved in the Battle for Berlin.

Despite their efforts, a British desire to appease Stalin meant that Polish forces, still under the command of Poland’s independent government in exile, were banned from taking part in official V-E Day celebrations.

During the war Polish codebreakers Zygalski and Rejewsk ended up in England with the Army where they tried to join the Bletchley codebreakers but nobody would acknowledge the team existed.

Zygalski ended up working as a mathematician at the University of Surrey.


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The extraordinary female codebreakers of Bletchley Park

January 5th, 2015

These worker ants came, mostly, from middle-class backgrounds. Colchester, now 91, had heard of Bletchley through her father, Air Vice-Marshal Sir Charles Medhurst, an air attaché in Rome. At the time, she was living in Italy, where her family moved in high circles – before the war, she had met Hitler and been flirted with by Mussolini at an embassy party – but she found the prospect of working for her country equally thrilling. She passed the interview, she remembers, “and immediately it was a completely different sort of life than I had been used to. When you’re 19, everything’s romantic and exciting. You’re away from home, meeting all sorts of wonderful people.”

One such person was Pamela Rose, an actress from London, then 24, who had been urged by an interfering godmother to apply for The Park. “I’d just been offered a part as an understudy in a play called Water on the Rhine in the West End, and I was rather excited by it,” she says. “So I asked the man who’d interviewed me, the head of the naval section, what he thought I should do. And he said, ‘Well, I think the stage can wait. The war can’t.’ So that was that.” Rose, now 97, believes she was recruited on the basis of her well to-do background: “I don’t think it was as snobbish as some people say, but they had to be careful about how they selected you. They seemed to think that if they took in girls from families they knew something about, they were less likely to get a German spy.”


Pamela Rose, photographed for an acting shot before her days at Bletchley

Their work was varied. While Colchester focused on decoding, Rose was stationed in the indexing hut of the naval intelligence section, taking words and phrases of interest from French and German messages, noting them down on cards and cross-referencing them. “The codes came in broken up into something like a text message,” she explains. “We had to have a card for the battle ship, another for the port it was leaving, another for where it was arriving, and so on. Some days it was incredibly exciting – other times it was very dull, about the captain’s socks or something.”

Others among Dunlop’s 15 Bletchley girls had different roles – Muriel Dindol, at 14 the youngest of the group, was a messenger girl; while Cora Jarman, now 88, professes she still doesn’t know what exactly she was doing back then. “It was just noughts and crosses on a sheet,” she laughs. “I only went to The Park because I liked the uniform of the Wrens.” There were, of course, a few female codebreakers – notably Joan Clarke, who worked alongside Turing, played by Keira Knightley in the recent film – “but they were hardly representative,” says Dunlop. “Once you had all these gigantic thumping machines, you needed girls to run them. And Joan looked nothing like that.”

With its unique mix of military and civilians living in the same quarters (many of them were billeted in nearby villages and bussed in and out of The Park each day), Bletchley was an extraordinary experience, beset by highs and lows. The girls worked on shifts, through the night in smoky, claustrophobic quarters, and they amused themselves with card games and gossip. There were tea dances in local hotels; theatre performances in the canteen; clubs and societies and cliques for like-minded interests. “We all used to meet over coffee breaks in a little room in the main house,” says Colchester, who can still sing the ditties she learned by heart seven decades ago. “There was a pressure to work, but it was very much a together community.”


The good old days: life as a ‘Bletchleyette’ (picture taken from Cora Jarman)

The girls were younger than the men, but they did socialise together – to the extent it was acceptable at the time. “They might have flirted but it was all very dignified,” says Dunlop. “They’d never have rolled into bed together. This was the last generation to get married before they even thought of having sex.” Indeed, Rose (nee Gibson) met her husband, Wing-Commander Jim Rose, at The Park – he was head of the air section – and, through him, was introduced to Turing. “I didn’t know Turing well,” she insists. “He was polite and intelligent, but he preferred the company of men.”

The four years at Bletchley flew by – and most of its women subsequently gave up their careers, got married and never looked back. Rose stayed until the end of 1945, wed Jim the following January, “and did the usual old fashioned thing of settling down and having a family”. Colchester took a more unconventional path; having lost her brother, Dick, in the war, she applied for a transfer to Cairo, where her parents were living. There, she moved from the world of codebreaking to a career in espionage with MI6, where she later crossed paths with Kim Philby, the notorious Cambridge spy.

For the majority, however, Bletchley was the pinnacle of their intellectual careers. “It simply couldn’t have functioned without them,” says Dunlop. “And this talks for all the women of the war – Wrens, Land Girls, radio operators. Their job was to be the facilitators; but it’s about time we made them the focus.” Both Rose and Colchester’s names appear in The Park’s official Roll of Honour, created online in 2013, where they are lauded “for service in support of the work of Bletchley Park during World War Two.” Three words accompany their names: “We Also Served” – a nod, perhaps, to the fact that it has taken so long to recognise their contribution.


Pamela Rose (left) and Rozanne Colchester (right), pictured today

Modesty characterises the Bletchleyettes today – every one of Dunlop’s 15 retains the dignity and discretion that made them such perfect employees 70 years ago; loyal, still, to that iconic institution. “There was a sense that we were doing something important,” says Colchester, cautiously. “I am proud of what we did. But did we feel appreciated? Well, you didn’t think much about that in those days. There was a war on. You never thought whether you were happy doing it – you just got on with your job.”

She gained something else from her days at The Park – a lifelong friend. Having been introduced by one of their tutors on the lawn outside the huts, Rose and Colchester struck up a friendship that endures to this day. They wrote letters to one another after the war, comforted each other when their husbands died – and ensured their children and grandchildren became firm friends. “That is one lovely legacy of that time,” muses Rose, her eyes twinkling. “As for the rest of it… There are so many people who say they ‘saved the war’. I know I didn’t. But I daresay I – we – did alright.”

The Bletchley Girls by Tessa Dunlop (Hodder & Stoughton, £20) is available to order from Telegraph Books at £17 + £1.95 p&p. Call 0844 871 1515 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk. Tessa Dunlop will be in conversation with some of the Bletchley veterans at Waterstones Piccadilly on Thursday, January 8 at 7pm. To reserve your space at this free event, email piccadilly@waterstones.com


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The Imitation Game: who were the real Bletchley Park codebreakers?

November 14th, 2014

As the war progressed, Station X became a hidden city of 10,000 people working in hastily constructed “huts”. Many of the codebreakers were tweedy, pipe-smoking Cambridge mathematicians, both dons and recent graduates, but some were recruited because of their linguistic skills, knowledge of hieroglyphics, or brilliance at chess. All were expected to be able to solve the Telegraph crossword in less than six minutes. Many were eccentric. One boffin would pace around the lake drinking coffee as he pondered, and when he had finished his cup he would look at it in surprise, as if unsure how it had got into his hand. He would then toss it over his shoulder in to the lake.

At the end of the war, Churchill ordered that all records of the place be destroyed in a huge bonfire. Had one former employee not written a book in 1974 about his work there, we might have remained in the dark about Bletchley to this day. As it was, the world was astonished.

Indignant too, because Alan Turing, the genius who did most to crack the German Enigma codes and shorten the war by at least two years, was treated appallingly after the war, on account of his homosexuality. He was prosecuted for “gross indecency” in 1952 and given hormone treatment – “chemical castration” – which led to his suicide two years later. He was given a posthumous royal pardon in 2013.


The Bletchley story is told in new film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing

A critically acclaimed new film, The Imitation Game, celebrates his work at Bletchley Park. As played by Benedict Cumberbatch (in what is being tipped as an Oscar-winning performance), Turing is revealed as an insensitive narcissist who found eye contact difficult, but who was very much the right man at the right time. Apart from saving millions of lives, he also had a hand in the invention of the world’s first programmable computer at Bletchley, a giant machine called Colossus that enabled him to crack codes quickly, by a process of elimination.

Everyone has heard of Turing now, and rightly so, but, as this film reminds us, he was part of an extraordinary team, some brilliant, others unprofessional, one treacherous. So who were they? Well, the second most important person at Bletchley was Hugh Alexander.

Hugh Alexander (played by Matthew Goode) – British chess champion

Hugh Alexander; Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander in The Imitation Game

Like many of the codebreakers, he had a first in mathematics from Cambridge, but he found himself in Hut 6 in 1940 thanks to his brilliance at chess. Twice British chess champion, and an International Master, he made important contributions to two classic chess strategies: “the Dutch defence” and the “Petroff defence”. Had he been allowed to compete in the Soviet Union during the Cold War – the authorities here thought the contents of his brain too valuable to allow him to go anywhere near there – he may even have become a world champion.

He was known in print at Bletchley as C.H.O’D – his full name was Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander – which sounds like a cryptic crossword clue. Perhaps not quite as dashing as the actor Matthew Goode who plays him in The Imitation Game, Alexander nevertheless had a reputation for urbanity and charm. In 1941, he was transferred to Hut 8 and became Turing’s deputy.

The great man would tease Alexander for being almost, but not quite, his intellectual equal.

According to a memoir written by one of his colleagues: “We all thought Hugh was crazy. Tall, blond, huge blue eyes, never stopped talking, a terrible energy.” And in the words of another: “We worked [at Hut 8] through the war on a continuous three-shift basis. The night shift was not generally popular because everybody quickly became tired through lack of proper sleep in the day; but Hugh had a strange passion for working at night and used to put himself on nights for weeks on end. This did not prevent him working much of the day as well – he seemed to thrive on this strange regime.” Alexander’s admiration for Turing was conditional – he found him annoying most of the time – and he eventually engineered a friendly coup against him to become the head of Hut 8. He did this because he rightly saw that Turing’s gifts were being wasted on the admin side of running things: he needed thinking space. It was Alexander, more than anyone else, who recognised Turing’s genius for what it was.

Station X was run in quite an amateurish way by MI6. Such was the lack of professionalism, in fact, Alexander and Turing broke with protocol and went over the heads of their MI6 superiors to make a direct appeal to the Prime Minister, requesting more equipment and personnel. Churchill responded instantly, agreeing to the requests and notifying his Chief of Staff. His memo was stamped with that memorable phrase of his: “Action This Day.” When the Germans introduced a “super enciphered” method of transmitting the day’s settings to their Enigma operators (using bigram tables), Alexander helped Turing develop a technique for breaking them called Banburismus, because it involved “punched holes on long sheets of paper printed in Banbury”.

Alexander also introduced a pneumatic tube system for transferring files and documents between huts. He had borrowed the idea from his pre-war job, working as the chief scientist with the John Lewis chain.

After the war he became head of cryptanalysis at GCHQ. He died at the age of 64 in 1974 and there has been speculation that the stresses caused by the mental demands of his career led to his early death.


The Colossus computer at Bletchley, used to decode Nazi messages. Photo: Alamy

Joan Clarke (played by Keira Knightley) – female codebreaker who became engaged to Turing

Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke in The Imitation Game

Joan Clarke, by contrast, was a much calmer, less intense character, which is perhaps why she lived until 1996, long after she retired from GCHQ. Like Alexander, she had a first in maths from Cambridge; unlike him, when she was recruited to Bletchley Park she was told that her work there wouldn’t really require mathematics.

This turned out not to be the case. After a period of clerical work with “the girls”, her mathematical gifts led to her becoming the only woman among a team of nine Banburists. And according to her boss, Alexander, she was “one of the best Banburists in the section”. Clarke wasn’t as glamorous as Keira Knightley, who plays her in the film, but her character is captured well by the actress. Records describe her as “congenial but shy, gentle and kind, non-aggressive and always subordinate to the men in her life”. Her enthusiasm and energy were legendary. She would often be reluctant to hand over her workings at the end of her shift and instead continue to see if a few more calculations would produce a result.

A pay rise was arranged to recognise her contributions to the team and she was promoted to “Linguist” even though she spoke no other language. She delighted in answering a questionnaire with “Grade: Linguist. Languages: none”.

In the spring of 1941, she developed a close friendship with her Hut 8 colleague Turing. For a time, they became inseparable, with Turing arranging their shifts so they could work together. One day, in his awkward way, he proposed marriage to her and when Clarke accepted he added, “But don’t count on it working out as I have homosexual tendencies.” The romance continued regardless, unconsummated, until they called it off by mutual consent a year later.

Clarke became deputy head of Hut 8 in early 1944 and, after the war, she married an Army officer she had met when working at GCHQ.

Decoder Wrens working in Huts 6 and 8 at Bletchley Park during the Second World War

Stewart Menzies (played by Mark Strong)

Stewart Menzies (Photo: Getty); Mark Strong as Stewart Menzies in The Imitation Game

Arguably, the next most important figure at Bletchley was Stewart Menzies. His grandfather was a wealthy whisky distiller and his parents were friends of Edward VII, who was rumoured to be Menzies’s real father. At Eton he was sporty but never academic, and he didn’t go to university afterwards but joined the Life Guards instead.

At the start of the war he became “C”, the head of MI6. Churchill was initially sceptical about whether Menzies was up to the job, but he eventually made him part of his inner circle and Menzies would report to him daily.

Though not a codebreaker himself, it was Menzies who was in overall charge at Bletchley, and it was he who introduced what was called Ultra. If too many of the intercepts from Bletchley were acted upon, the Germans would get suspicious that the Enigma codes had been cracked. Menzies therefore introduced a system that meant only a certain percentage of the intelligence gleaned from decoding would be passed on to the British Army, Navy and RAF.

In addition to being married three times, he had a long-term affair with his secretary. He retired with the rank of major general.

John Cairncross (played by Allen Leech) – loner later revealed to be part of the Cambridge spy ring

John Cairncross; Allen Leech as John Cairncross in The Imitation Game

It is implied in the film that Menzies knew exactly what the spy John Cairncross was up to at Station X. An intelligent, spiky man, Cairncross was described by his colleagues at Bletchley Park as “a bit of a loner”.

This was an understatement given that he was the Fifth Man in the Cambridge spy ring. He knew Kim Philby and Anthony Blunt, but didn’t like them much.

He admitted to spying in 1951 when Guy Burgess fled to Moscow and MI5 found a handwritten note from him in Burgess’s flat.

Cairncross arrived at Bletchley Park in 1942 and went to work in Hut 3 on Germany Army group communications. Unusually for a codebreaker, he read languages at Cambridge, rather than mathematics.

Throughout the war, Cairncross passed documents through secret channels to his KGB handlers, who gave him the code name Liszt, because of his love of music. He smuggled the decrypts out of the hut in his trousers, transferring them to his bag at the railway station.

But the truth is probably more ambiguous than this summary of his treachery allows. The Allies wanted the Soviets to know about certain German battle plans, just not where the intelligence came from. They were our wartime allies, after all.

Given the tight security at Bletchley, there is speculation that Menzies arranged things so that Cairncross was fed with documents that he wanted the Soviets to see. It seems the only explanation for why only the most relevant decrypts were left conveniently lying around, and why Cairncross was never searched as he left Bletchley.

Peter Hilton (played by Matthew Beard) – maths genius and inventor of one of the world’s longest palindromes

Peter Hilton; Matthew Beard as Peter Hilton in The Imitation Game

Our next notable Bletchley figure could not have been more different from prickly Cairncross. Unusually for a Bletchley Park mathematician, the precocious, sweet-natured Peter Hilton had studied at Oxford rather than Cambridge. He was recruited in 1942 at the tender age of 18 because he also knew German (a language he had taught himself in a year). He worked alongside Turing in Hut 8 on Naval Enigma and, thanks to his extraordinary powers of visualisation, he was able to unpick in his mind’s eye streams of characters from two separate teleprinters – a feat of mental gymnastics that proved vital when the Germans introduced a new system of teleprinter ciphers produced by a much larger and more complex machine than Enigma.

Many years after the war, this was revealed to be a Lorenz SZ40 encoder, but, at the time, staff at Bletchley Park called it “Tunny”.

In his off-duty hours, Hilton (played by Matthew Beard in the film) earned a reputation as a convivial companion.

He was a regular in the bar of the Bletchley pub that was subsequently renamed The Enigma, and often attended dances at nearby Woburn Abbey, where Wrens were billeted. He also became a renowned exponent both of bawdy songs and dirty jokes and once spent a sleepless night composing one of the world’s longest palindromes: DOC, NOTE: I DISSENT. A FAST NEVER PREVENTS A FATNESS. I DIET ON COD.

After the war, Hilton became a professor of mathematics at Cornell University and helped create a new discipline, homology theory. Once the Official Secrets Act was lifted in the Eighties, his lectures about the years at Bletchley Park became highly popular at venues all over the world.

“For me,” he recalled in one of them, “the real excitement was this business of getting two texts out of one sequence of gibberish. I never met anything quite so exciting, especially since you knew that these were vital messages.”

Jack Good (played by James Northcote) – once cracked a code in his sleep


Jack Good, right, once cracked a code in his sleep. Photo: Des Good

And so we come to our final unsung Bletchley hero. Jack Good was a slender, good-humoured, bushy-moustached mathematician (Cambridge) who worked closely with Turing in Hut 8 and was prone to having catnaps on the floor of the hut, especially after a long shift. This was just as well because he broke one vital code in his sleep, with the solution coming to him in a dream. In it he wondered whether the dummy letters German telegraphists had to add to their messages in order to transmit them were random, or whether there was a bias towards particular letters. After inspecting some messages that had been broken, he discovered that there was a tendency to use some letters more than others. This being the case, all the codebreakers had to do was work back from the indicators given at the beginning of each message, and apply each bigram table in turn. The bigram table that produced one of the popular dummy letters was probably the correct one.

When Good (played by James Northcote in the film) mentioned his discovery to Turing, the genius felt embarrassed, and said, “I could have sworn that I tried that already.” It quickly became an important part of the Banburismus procedure.

After the war, Good became a professor and worked as a consultant to Stanley Kubrick on the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. He never guessed Turing’s sexual orientation in all the time they worked together, and neither did the Bletchley Park authorities. “Otherwise,” as Good noted matter-of-factly, “Turing may have been driven to kill himself earlier, and we might have lost the war.”

The Imitation Game is on release now


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Bletchley Park codebreakers 'dried their knickers on Hitler's Enigma machine'

November 13th, 2014

“It used to be festooned with bras and pants all through our night duty. Back then it must have looked a real sight.”

Mrs Balfour’s father had to give his permission for her join the Wrens in 1944 because she was under 18.

She spent six weeks training in London before being assigned to “Special Duties X” and posted to the secret facility near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

She spent up to 10 hours a day sifting through reams of code and said they were never told where their work had actually succeeded.

The women were even forbidden from talking to each other about their individuals parts of the puzzle.

Mrs Balfour said: “We were given long strips of paper tape made by the Enigma machine and told to divide everything into fives.

“We used to get codes for the day, one I can remember is YO-SE-RO, a Japanese code for man.

“There were so many of them I can’t remember, but I’ve always remembered that one.

Wrens operating the world’s first electronic programmable computer, the Colossus (Bletchley Park Trust)

“None of us knew everything that we were working on. We each knew a bit, our own part of the puzzle, so if you were caught, you couldn’t tell them everything, even if they tortured you.

“We were told never to discuss with anyone else what we were doing.

“We never knew anything. We never knew what we had done, or if we had helped to actually crack the codes.

“I never even told my parents because we signed the Official Secrets Act, so they died without ever finding out what I was doing.”

Mrs Balfour, from Helensburgh, Scotland, said she and her fellow Wrens would see Turing walking about the grounds – often backwards as he read a book.

She said: “We used to see Alan Turing from time to time, and back then we used to giggle and laugh.

“We used to watch him walk backwards sometimes while reading a book, and we couldn’t help but giggle at him for how he acted.

“We thought he was queer for how he behaved.

“But I feel the government should formally recognise him for his work during the war. He did so much and his name has not yet appeared anywhere really.

“It’s too late for him now, but people should know what he did.

“I think because he was queer, he was pushed into the background, but all these people with these brilliant minds were a bit different in their own way.”


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Female codebreakers reunited at Bletchley Park

May 6th, 2014

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.

The Codebreakers at Bletchley Park in 1945

Among them was Margaret Kelly, 87, from Monmouth, Wales, who joined the Wrens aged 18. Mrs Kelly, who now has 33 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren, recalls “whizzing” off messages from the machine to be translated from German.

“It was lovely to see the other Wrens after such a long time and I hope we will meet up again,” she said.

The group also included Margaret Mortimer and Margaret O’Connell, both 87, as well as Lorna Cockayne, 88, who had all worked feeding tapes into Colossus.Betty Warwick, 89, who lives in London, worked at Bletchley Park as a registrar before going on to become a speech therapist after the war.

She said: “I had a call from Maggie (Margaret Mortimer) to say she had spotted my picture in the photo which was printed in the Telegraph. I then got a copy and recognised myself.”

Mrs Chorley added: “It was lovely to see everyone and be together again after such a long time.”

At the gathering the women were shown a fully-functioning Colossus Mark II, which had been rebuilt.

Regarded as the world’s first digital, electronic computer, Colossus was built to speed up codebreaking of the Lorenz cipher. By the end of the war there were 10 functioning machines.

The women described the gathering, which was held in March, ahead of a film of their reunion to be shown on the BBC’s The One Show on Wednesday evening.


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