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Bletchley Park WWII Staff Finally Recognized 122

Posted by Soulskill
from the what's-a-few-decades-among-friends dept.
99luftballon writes "Nearly 70 years after Station X (aka the Bletchley Park cryptanalysis unit) was set up, the surviving members are to be honored by the British government. Bletchley was one of the most important computing centers of its time and housed giants of the technology industry (as it was) like Tommy Flowers, who built Colossus, and Dr. Alan Turing. I was lucky enough to meet one of the staff at the site 11 years ago, and she was very bitter that their work was never recognized, and that they were bound by the Official Secrets Act and couldn't talk about it. It's just a shame that so few of the staff are still alive to receive the award."
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Bletchley Park WWII Staff Finally Recognized

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  • by allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @12:10AM (#28657645) Homepage Journal
    Why not a posthumous award for those that aren't among us fleshbags?
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Saturday July 11, 2009 @12:12AM (#28657651)

    What the British government did, by covering up and hiding the work these people did, is an affront to the very concept of a free society.

    But what's wrong with the people involved that they can't do it for anything more than love of their country? Barring that, why aren't they satisfied with the money they received for it?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      On the flipside, by covering up the work, one could argue that they kept their society more free from the rule of foreign regimes by securing vital technology.

      But, for how many years is it useful to do this?

      • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @04:39AM (#28658485)
        I doubt if the usefulness of such secrecy ever came into it. The British government has an extensive record for secretiveness, largely because they have a long record of underhand dealings with all parts of the world, including their own populace.

        They probably kept Bletchley Park's role (subsequently to the War) under wraps out of nothing more than sheer habit.
        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          In Australia, we have a (very common) saying ... Pommy Bastards!

          Now the rest of the world might understand what we mean!
          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Still, better than trying to wipe out the native peoples. Never mind, eh?

            Besides, the only difference between the poms and yourselves is that you were stupid enough to get caught.

            Again, never mind.

          • In Australia, we have a (very common) saying ... Pommy Bastards!
            Now the rest of the world might understand what we mean!


            Hmmm. The record of many Australian governments for underhand dealings is nothing to be sanctimonious about either, so pipe down.

            [Disclaimer: I am a British (not English) and Australian dual national.]
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Think about it.

          Revelation of a capability will immediately cause adversaries to adapt themselves to minimize exposure to your areas of expertise. That can be instant or point research and be more gradual. Either way, even suggestions of your present capabilities are priceless for an adversary's minimization of risk. That's why intelligence methods are kept secret. A lot of people simply do not get this connection.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by gyrogeerloose (849181)

            That's absolutely true. But it was possible for the people of Bletchley Park to be recognized for their achievements without giving up the technical details of what they did--especially when you consider that, by the 1970s, it was already common knowledge everywhere else in the world but Great Britain.

            I frequently get pissed off by the shenanigans of my own government (U.S.) but when it comes to unnecessary secrecy and invasion of privacy, the British government has about the worst record in the (nominally)

        • The results of the cracking of Enigma were kept secret because after the war the Enigma technology was sold on and they didn't want the purchasers to know that it had already been cracked!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GreenTech11 (1471589)

      I'm sure they enjoyed what they did, but if you have given most of your life to a cause, then you'll want some form of recognition for it. These people received no such public recognition, while many people in similar fields have, so it is understandable that they are upset by the lack of recognition.

      .

      As for the British Government hiding this work, they likely believed that by revealing it at the time they were endangering the staff of the facillity, as well as the country as a whole.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

        That kind of attitude reminds me of the graduation ceremonies for kindergarteners, elementary school students, and middle school students. Recognizing the daily work of people as something extraordinary when in fact it is not only ordinary but required and demanded. Praising someone for doing the bare minimum is not only an insult to that person but to all people to whom you would ever reward.

        These people did their duty and saved the lives of many of their countrymen. But their work was not done at great pe

        • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @12:52AM (#28657779)

          This was not ordinary work. It was extraordinary work, with some of the most brilliant minds of the time and with amazing mathematical and scientific developments worth of Nobel Prizes.

          A lack of recognition might have also helped so many of them work quietly in the "BBC World Service" for decades after the war.

          • Yes so extrodinary that for decades after the war it was used by the US/UK to spy on enemies and allies.
        • by reverseengineer (580922) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @01:21AM (#28657861)
          "It was thanks to Ultra that we won the war." -Winston Churchill, to King George VI

          I must disagree with the notion that the work at Bletchley Park was not done at peril to those involved. No, the codebreakers didn't die in the mud taking back pieces of Europe, but what they did was so important that when they went to work, they too went to battle. Secrecy was their armor. If Nazi Germany had truly known what was going on at Bletchley Park, they would have sent every plane in the Luftwaffe to turn it into a crater. Honoring those that served there does not diminish the honors bestowed on those who died on battlefields.
          • by Yazeran (313637) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:31AM (#28658075)

            Actually what the germans would have done instead of trying to bomb bletchley (which they likely could have done using the knickebein , X-beam or Y-beam bombing system depending on date) was to change their encryption systems to something more secure.

            They made a number of errors in how thy used the Enigma (stereotypical messages, repetition of the message key etc.) which they could have corrected sooner had they known that the British (and notably the poles even before the war) had broken the Enigma.

            For instance the naval version of the Enigma was much harder to break than the standard army version as German marine was much more conscious about the above pitfalls and had a more complex Enigma.

            Yours Yazeran

            Plan: to go to mars with a hammer

            • Actually what the germans would have done instead of trying to bomb bletchley (which they likely could have done using the knickebein , X-beam or Y-beam bombing system depending on date) was to change their encryption systems to something more secure.

              Why "instead"?

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Yazeran (313637)

                To protect whatever source they would have had that the British did their code-breaking at bletchley.

                The British had the same considerations when they had decrypted material; 'how much of it can we use before the Germans get the idea that we have broken their encryption'. Some times U-boats or supply ships was left alone even after their exact position was known in order to protect the fact that Enigma was broken.

                Yours Yazeran

                Plan: To go to Mars one day with a hammer

            • Actually what the germans would have done instead of trying to bomb bletchley (which they likely could have done using the knickebein , X-beam or Y-beam bombing system depending on date) was to change their encryption systems to something more secure.

              This is was one of the issues the allies had with ULTRA and MAGIC decrypts: what do you do with it? It's so hot that if the enemy suspected, for a second, that their system had been compromised, they would change it, and you'd be back to square one.

              Apparently many lower-rank Germans suspected Enigma had been cracked, but the upper echelons refused to hear of it.

              ...laura

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by SlashWombat (1227578)
            Yes, but had they honored those at Bletchley Park, perhap Alan Turing would not have suicided. (Some say he was assassinated) At least he would have been viewed as a hero for what he (and others) achieved for the Allies.

            PS: Don't mention the war, I did once but I think I got away with it!
            • by hughk (248126)
              If you have ever been to BP's excellent little museum, you will learn why everything was kept very secret. There is a display showing some Warsaw Pact devices from the late sixties and a casual remark shows they are based on the old WW2 Nazi teleprinter (Lorenz) coding devices. The technology embodied in Colossus and the techniques used to break the codes were very much in use for a long time after the end of WW2.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 99luftballon (838486)
          I see your point on this, although their work did enable many servicemen and women to come home alive.
        • by cyn1c77 (928549)

          These people did their duty and saved the lives of many of their countrymen. But their work was not done at great peril to themselves. It was not under a hail of cannon fire and bullets that they worked at Bletchley Park. Their work is appreciated, but it cannot be more appreciated than the lives of soldiers who gave much much more in the defense of their countrymen.

          Do you feel the same way about the Manhattan Project participants?

          Their work doesn't need to be "more" appreciated than that of the basic soldier, but it still isn't "ordinary." Ordinary is if you keep doing your day job. In some cases, "ordinary" also means you get drafted and go along and follow orders.

          A lot of these scientists worked 18+ hour days to get their jobs done in wartime. They probably also had to justify their existence to the government for all or part of the time they were working unti

          • by hughk (248126)
            One of the interesting points is that whilst the majority of the Manhatten Project people were sequestered away in the middle of nowehere, many of these people were living in their normal towns and villages nearby. Many of those not in uniform would face criticism (if not accusations of cowardice) for not joining up. A difficult situation in which to maintain secrecy.
        • These people did their duty and saved the lives of many of their countrymen. But their work was not done at great peril to themselves. It was not under a hail of cannon fire and bullets that they worked at Bletchley Park. Their work is appreciated, but it cannot be more appreciated than the lives of soldiers who gave much much more in the defense of their countrymen.

          There is nothing wrong with not giving your life for your country while giving the other bastard every opportunity to give his for his.

    • Almost all of the staff were draftees, doing their military service at the camp. I never heard anyone complain about the money - it was what people did in war time. Indeed Tommy Flowers spent more than the £1,000 he received to build Colossus. But with the war won they couldn't talk about what they had done until the 1980s and their extraordinary contribution has never been officially recognised.
    • by jo42 (227475)

      What the British government did ... is an affront to the very concept of a free society.

      You haven't been following what the British government has been doing the last few years in the name of anti-terrorism, have you...

    • by Xest (935314)

      "What the British government did, by covering up and hiding the work these people did, is an affront to the very concept of a free society."

      I assume you mean after the war? Else if the government had strived for a free society during the war hence letting the Germans know we'd cracked enigma and that we were going to carry out D-Day then we'd all be speaking German.

      "But what's wrong with the people involved that they can't do it for anything more than love of their country?"

      The idea of doing something for t

    • The issue is this. During the war if you were seen to be 'avoiding' the front lines or fighting for your country you had a very very rough time of it. War was hell for those who apparently were not doing their duty for the country. This is from everyone. You were a pariah in your communities. You were picked on by the local authorities (police, etc).

      So imagine how you felt if you knew you were working hard for Britain in the war but you couldn't tell anyone. Not only are you not being recognised you'r

  • by TopSpin (753) *

    amazon + Bletchley = 2791

    It registers fine.

        isc 0x009811009211521 AK

  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @12:22AM (#28657689) Homepage
    Let's start with an apology to Alan Turing [jgc.org] and a public recognition for the grave injustice dealt to him for being homosexual, despite his enormous service to his country, the allies, philosophy, and, of course, computer science.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      FTA, "like Tommy Flowers, who built Colossus, and Dr. Alan Turing"

      I believe we only have Mr. Flowers to blame. If he'd built Mr. Turing as just a regular heterosexual, he would've been a lot better off!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

      The two things are separate.

      First, he worked for the government as a code breaker. While he has not received official recognition until now, it must be remembered that this was a top-secret operation and there was always the possibility that the operation would never be recognized.

      Second, he was gay. Like other gays in Britain at that time, he was persecuted and prosecuted.

      Now if you want to say that he should be recognized above and beyond his workmates at Bletchley because he was also gay, that simply doe

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by MrMista_B (891430)

        Way to put words in someone else's mouth, asshole.

        Nobody has said that he should be recognized above and beyond his workmates at Bletchley, but you. Nobody has siad that he should be apologized to more than any other persecuted gay person becaues he was more useful to the government, except, again, for you.

        Putting those things together is something that /only you/ have done, and it makes you look like an asshole.

        Alan Turing deserves an apology, and trying to weasel around that like you have done is simply d

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tacvek (948259)

          Surely he does. He deserves two apologies. Unfortunately, one of them, namely the persecution for homosexuality is simply not possible. To apologize to him specifically for that, while not doing the same for all the others is tantamount to singling him out because he was also a codebreaker.

          Apologizing for failing to recognize his code-breaking work is possible. There are a sufficiently small number of them (all with identities known to the Crown (i.e. in the records)) that apologizing to all of them is viab

          • According to someone I knew who worked on Colossus with Turing and Flowers, Turing was attracted to teenage boys, and didn't feel good about it. Meanwhile the British Government kept sending him to Boys Schools to "inspire the young men". This was, so I was told, what drove him to suicide - like forcing a reformed junkie to work in a pharmacy.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by superdana (1211758)
              Oh good, let's keep equating gay people with pedophiles, and let's do it on hearsay and rumor. Lovely.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by bishop32x (691667)
              I think the forced chemical castration played a larger role in his suicide...
            • So why did he wait until years after the war and until he was being actively persecuted for his homosexuality with forced chemical castration and all that? If being sent to boys' schools was bothering him then you'd think he'd be at his highest risk for suicide while it was happening. If I were in his shoes, I would have heaved a sigh of relief and moved on once the government stopped sending me round to the boys' schools.

              And wasn't his involvement at Bletchley Park extraordinarily classified, seeing as ho
              • Alan Turing was well known for his genius both before and after Bletchley, especially for his work on computation and biological mathematics. It was at one of his guest lectures at a school where he made his famous remark "the brain is much like a bowl of cold porridge". Although the exact nature of his wartime work was secret, it was no secret that he was Britain's answer to Einstein and Von Neumann, and was widely paraded as an example of British excellence at a time when the country was still ravaged b

          • It is absolutely possible to apologize to Alan Turing for the awful way in which he was treated and it needs to be done. I fail to understand why you say this is not possible. Additionally, there's nothing wrong with singling him out for this apology as the others did not suffer this wrong. Good for them. Bad for Alan Turing.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

          Why just him? Shouldn't all gays persecuted under those laws get an apology?

          The singling of Turing out for special treatment is not my idea, it's apparently yours.

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by awpoopy (1054584)
          Congratulations on being the first one to bring the word asshole into a conversation about a gay man. Dickweed.</humour>
      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        Putting these two things together is a non-sequitor.

        A what?

      • by bogjobber (880402) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @04:14AM (#28658415)

        If you want to say he should be apologized to more than any other persecuted gay person because he was somehow more useful to the government than the others, that also doesn't make any sense.

        It does, though. I don't think anyone would suggest that the UK government apologize to Turing and Turing alone, but singling him out as a symbol of the terrible things done to homosexuals at the time isn't unfair. His torture and eventual suicide have become symbolic for what hideously repressive things were done to homosexuals back then, at least to the small percentage of people who know and care of such things.

        Remember, society is all about symbolism and people care about symbolic gestures very much. Alan Turing wouldn't be the first person to be made into a symbol of repression. Rosa Parks wasn't the first black woman told to move to the front of the bus, but it wasn't unfair to single her out and give her a state funeral. Nelson Mandela wasn't the only black leader imprisoned in South Africa, but he was the symbol of apartheid and elected to be president in 1994. Muhammad Ali wasn't the only draft dodger to be stripped of his livelihood and publicly ridiculed, but his was the case that went to the US Supreme Court.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Kirth Gersen (603793)

        BadAnalogyGuy:

        If you want to say he should be apologized to more than any other persecuted gay person because he was somehow more useful to the government than the others, that also doesn't make any sense.

        It makes sense to me. Here's another analogy: have you heard of the recent case where a Moslem woman was suing some guy in a German court, the guy starts stabbing her, her husband wades in to stop him, then a guard shows up and shoots the husband? Don't you think the husband deserves more of an apology tha

      • It was the combination of the two that made it worse for him. The government was afraid that his homosexuality can be used to blackmail him into revealing the secret of his work done at Bletchley. He was forced to take estrogen as a result. Had he not worked at Bletchley, it probably might not have happened since the British government would not have been as interested in his private life.
    • by V!NCENT (1105021)
      To everybody in this thread: can we please stop putting people in boxes and categorise them? Everybody is an individual and what does it matter if someone like the color blue, red, green, boy or girls? Stop calling someone straight and gay. You're a person who just happens to be attracted to people of your own gender, the oppositye gender, both or neither. It is the year 2009 and by now one would expect people to be a little bit wiser, especialy on places like /..
      • by scottv67 (731709)
        Stop calling someone straight and gay. You're a person who just happens to be attracted to people of your own gender, the oppositye gender, both or neither. It is the year 2009 and by now one would expect people to be a little bit wiser, especially on places like /..

        You must be new here. You mentioned /. as a place where you have higher expectations for individual behavior. The same /. where violent flame wars break out over the type of OS (Windows vs. Linux) a person uses on his/her computer or even t
      • Welcome to slashdot. Predominantly the world of the privileged white male and the attitudes that go with that. Heaven help you if you're a bi-sexual woman. But then I probably shouldn't be worrying my pretty little head over such things...

        • by V!NCENT (1105021)
          I am a privileged white male who's solely into females. But it's so funny that most people here think that they are sooooo smart and /. is intelligence league pur sang, while they can't even look beyond such simplistic things that shouldn't even matter if you are at least 1% intelligent. Oh well, if it's really true that most people think like that over here than the majority of /. must be fscking stupid...
    • An apology is most definitely in order. Estrogen shots? COME ON.

    • by Lord Kano (13027)

      In today's world, we recognize that a person's sexuality is their own business. That was not the world of the 1940s. Homosexuality was seen as both a sin and a mental illness. Would we bat an eye if a major government, in a time of war, didn't give proper consideration to someone who had ADD?

      LK

  • Unprofessional (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Weedhopper (168515) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @12:27AM (#28657701)

    Bitter? About not receiving public recognition over classified work?

    The contribution of those who worked at Bletchley Park is immeasurable, both literally and figuratively. Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the history of cryptography or the Second World War knows of Bletchley Park.

    But bitter about not having received official recognition because of the rules that were in place to maintain secrecy? Yeah, the secrecy was maintained long after it was necessary and had well passed into public knowledge, but BITTER?

    I'm sorry, but no. There are thousands, if not tens of thousands of individuals whose contributions toward a free society will never be known because of the secrecy in which they had to conduct their duties. If we include those who died in war and whose bodies or for that matter, identities were never recovered, that number would probably reach into the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

    And this lady is bitter that she hasn't received recognition from the British government?

    Sorry, but color me a little unsympathetic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      "Not recognizing", goodness. Try literally castrating: go look up what happened to Alan Turing. It's important to remember of that era that the Nazis weren't the only ones locking up people for being different: the British treatment of homosexualy and the American treatment of Japanese-Americans of that time simply reflect other nation's willingness to harass and destroy those minority groups they pick as feared scapegoats.

      And 20, 30, even 50 years later, the people who helped win WWII for the allies in suc

    • by jonwil (467024)

      The secrecy was maintained after the war for so long for one reason and one reason only. Namely that the USA and UK were using the same techniques to read the secret messages of a number of countries and if it became known that the USA and UK had this technology, these countries would replace their codes with something a LOT more secure.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        My Father served for a time in 1942 at Bletchley Park. He wasn't involved with the 'real work' but his duties were to guard those who were.
        Right up to his death in 1994, he refused point blank to talk about what went on there even though there were TV progs and even books available about the work that went on. All he would say was that 'I was stationed in Buckinghamshire and we guarded some very important people. We were told never to speak about where we were and what we were doing. He was emphatic about t

      • by tonyr60 (32153)

        There appears to be a perception that this work has stopped, it had not... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echelon_(signals_intelligence) [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How about recognizing the Navy personnel in Hawaii who worked on the Japanese codes? My late father in law, pre war IBM, was commissioned and sent over there as one of the supervisors to the group using IBM tabulating machines. He never broke cover in all the years I knew him. Even when I figured out what he and other of his IBM colleagues had done, he simply changed the subject. And, that was over 22 years after the fact. Classified is classified and there is no shelf date.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, I hear you. Late in my grandpa's life, he disclosed his real job in the army: courier. Now you might think that's an unimportant job not worthy of secrecy, but he understood the messages he was carrying. He carried communication between Enrico Fermi, Einstein, Oppenheimer et All. We only learned what he did as his mind started to fail. As it started to go, he didn't make up things, but repeated things he did know. He started with more recent things, but he forgot recent things and had to move to earli

      • by bhiestand (157373)

        Even when I figured out what he and other of his IBM colleagues had done, he simply changed the subject. And, that was over 22 years after the fact. Classified is classified and there is no shelf date.

        I have to respect that and understand. It seems too few people know what it means to keep your word and keep a secret. I do have to make a technical nitpick, though: Classified does have a shelf date. IIRC, it's a 75 year commitment from the time your security clearance goes inactive or whatever else it's called. It's actually a signed legal contract with the government.

        Additionally, there's a schedule for the declassification of information. More time sensitive stuff is declassified rather quickly, a

    • She was a little bitter, but the main reason was that for 40+ years she wasn't even allowed to tell her family or husband what she had done, which caused some unpleasantness for her among people who assumed she'd slacked off during the war. Then when she could no-one understood the significance of what she had taken part in.
      • Here's my question to you - did she know what she was getting involved in a classified project?

        If the answer is yes, then there is no room for this. It's a sacrifice that those who become involved in secret projects have to make. If you're unwilling to make that sacrifice, then don't do it. Choose another way to contribute for which you will receive public recognition.

        When I was young and stupid, I graduated with scores good enough to choose any branch of the US Army. At the time, the two most selective

        • No, none of the participants knew until they arrived at the site. She was relatively low down on the food chain but they were (presumably) security checked, given orders of where to turn up and then told and ordered to sign the act. Apparently this was the case for the high end code breakers themselves as well.
    • Re:Unprofessional (Score:5, Interesting)

      by choco (36913) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @04:36AM (#28658477) Homepage

      My Aunt worked at Bletchley Park. She was a Bombe Operator. In her case - "Bitter" is certainly the wrong word.

      At the time she knew a fair bit about what she, personally, was doing. She didn't understand all the details, but she knew she was cracking messages relating to the Battle of the Atlantic - and that it was damned important. As an intelligent woman she also knew and accepted why the secrecy was important - both at the time and afterwards. She never discussed it at the time with anyone.

      My Grandfather was bright enough to work out that my Aunt had done "something a bit special" in the war - and was very frustrated that he had no idea at all what it was and that she refused to discuss it. He died in 1969. IIRC "The Ultra Secret" was published about 5 years later. That was the moment when the restrictions were relaxed - and she could tell the rest of the family where she had been during the war.

      My Aunt is bitter about what happened to Alan Turing. It was wrong "of itself" and it was also wrong that this country seemed to forget exactly how much was owed Dr Turing. She regards it as a tragedy and a waste. I agree.

      My late Father was one of those who fought in "The Forgotten War" in Burma. One of many horrible parts to WW2. He gained "The Burma Star". Something he wore with great pride and which recorded what he had been a part of. My Aunt will be pleased to finally have something similar.

      I think that it is just to recognise the achievements of those who worked at Bletchley Park in the same way - and that it probably could and should have happened sooner - perhaps during the 1970s.

    • by Faluzeer (583626)

      "snip...And this lady is bitter that she hasn't received recognition from the British government?..."

      This is the United Kingdom, this is the place where we recognise / honour people in the honours lists every year for seemingly no more reason than that they...
      1. had the right parents.
      2. went to the right schools and universities.
      3. worked in the civil service.
      4. donated money to a political party.
      5. are / were a celebrity.

      The Bletchley Park staff were far more deserving of honours and recognition than a lot

    • by zildgulf (1116981)
      I can understand disappointed, especially when this could have been disclosed much earlier than today (like May 1995, 50 years after VE day, or August 1995, 50 years after VJ day).

      But being "bitter"??? She knew her contribution would probably be kept "secret" long after she worked on that project. She must've known that, given the British government's history, her contributions might have been kept during her lifetime.

      Also, those in the know would have learned of her contributions and those of her col
  • Yet another case where a technology was invented in the UK, and due to secrecy the recognition and profit went elsewhere. RSA is another example.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I guess I can understand being bitter about not being recognized for your work but like, it's a clandestine operation. What do you expect? You knew the job was dangerous (thankless) when you took it ... Fred.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 11, 2009 @01:08AM (#28657821)

    Get your facts straight. At a Warsaw conference on 25 July 1939 the Polish Cipher Bureau initiated the French and British into its Enigma-breaking techniques and technology, and provided complete "bomba" cracking machines. The bomba, or bomba kryptologiczna (Polish for "bomb" or "cryptologic bomb") was a special-purpose machine designed about October 1938 by Polish Cipher Bureau cryptologist Marian Rejewski to break German Enigma-machine ciphers. Colossus used to crack Enigma at Bletchley Park was based on Bomba technology. Harry Hinsley suggested in British Intelligence that the Poles decided to share their Enigma-breaking techniques and equipment with the French and British in July 1939 because they had encountered insuperable technical difficulties. Rejewski refuted this: "No, it was not [cryptologic] difficulties [...] that prompted us to work with the British and French, but only the deteriorating political situation. If we had had no difficulties at all we would still, or even the more so, have shared our achievements with our allies as our contribution to the struggle against Germany.". It's a shame to see Bletchley Park giving almost no credit to Polish Cipher Bureau, and claiming all the credit.

    • by ralewi1 (919193)
      Kind of a nasty spin you put on this story. The British don't deny Polish involvement, and TFA didn't mention the Polish because that's exactly not what this story is about. Also, using a little logic, if the British don't honor their own over concerns over secrecy, they sure won't honor Poles for similar effort. In any case, I'd leave it to the Polish government to honor their cryptologists, if they haven't done so already.
    • Well, the Colossus wasn't "based on bomba technology", and was never used to crack Engima.
    • by fantomas (94850) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @05:54AM (#28658741)

      If you go to Bletchley Park the tour guides (some of whom served there during the war) are very clear about crediting all contributions where due.

      One of the places the tour stops at is the memorial to the Polish code breakers and the tour guides clearly explain the Polish connection. They have an annual Polish day at the Park - celebrated two weeks ago, photos here [bletchleypark.org.uk]. Bletchley Park folks recognise the Polish contribution and make their visitors aware of this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yazeran (313637)

      Actually the Colossus was not used on the Enigma cipher, but instead on the Lorenz-cipher (somewhat similar to Enigma, but more complex) which was used by the german high command and the Nazi-top exclusively.

      The British build copies of the polish bombes, and after the Germans changed the day-key scheme, Turing designed a new version of the bombes which was capable to deal with that (once a proper 'crib' was found, often based on German wether reports which tended to be more stereotypical)

      Yours Yazeran

      Plan:

  • These people deserve recognition just for the fact they served their country for so many years.

    These days, many people would be tempted to post their activities to the web and be interviewed by the New York Times, who in turn would be thrilled to get the scoop, at the expense of national security. The enemies of freedom know how to abuse ours...

  • It was not your Spitfire pilots or your observer crews. It was them who broke the enigma and thus made sure the crap the US sent over arrived in one piece.

    I think Churchill's speech about how so many have to thank so few fits far better here. So why no recognition for them 'til now.

    Way over due, if you ask me.

    • Not any more than any soldier who died in the mud, nor any nurse who worked in a hospital, nor any man who came back missing body parts.

      Individually, they all contributed towards an Allied victory.

      War is about killing the enemy and breaking his shit. This is not possible without a man out there at the tip of the spear.

      Saved (Allied) lives? Contributed to a quicker victory? Ensured the continued functioning of home society? Yes, yes and yes. And more.

      But "won the war?" GTFO. That's a slap in the face t

      • To paraphrase a friend of mine who happens to be in the military: "War is never won at the front. Always somewhere behind."

        While I don't really agree with that statement in today's warfare, it sure was true for the symmetrical wars of the past. I don't want to marginalize the efforts and hardships of the people who fought it, but very rarely they made what's often called "the difference". I can't think of a single battle in WW2 where the outcome was decided by the people fighting it.

        Pearl Harbor: surprise (

  • and do nothing, when they can (like when it's a secret anyway),

    then you know that they are not doing that recognition spectacle for you to be known, but for them to be known.

  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @10:14AM (#28659717) Homepage Journal

    For those who still survive it would be cool if they could document their time and Bletchley park, and then put under seal until such time the government accepts those experiences to go public. For me, if this is not done we lose an important part of our history and insight into what happened then. I would hope that after 60 years the government would be willing to allow this information to go public.

    Everyone who participates in defending our freedoms deserves recognition, but the sad thing is that when it is not an armed force we are often unaware who did their part. Even if some of these figures seem do be doing very little, the resulting actions can be very important.

  • Lots to see at Bletchley with the National Museum of computing also located there:http://www.tnmoc.org/

  • For a good read, I can recommend "The Hut Six Story : Breaking the Enigma Codes by Gordon Welchman".

    Some of the reasons why Enigma Failed:

    1) Choosing "sillies" for encryption keys (eg QWE, QAZ (or whatever the equivalent is on the German AZERTY keyboard).
    2) Re-using keys
    3) Using Cribs (eg putting some of the preamble of the message into the encrypted part)
    4) Sending the same message day after day (eg "Nothing to Report"). This would compromise the key for all stations using that key:
    5) Using the same key fo

    • by expatriot (903070)

      I was at BP today (with two other nerds) and the tour gide mentioned several of these.

      I was particularly interesting that one isolated post was sending the same short message every day and this was assumed to be "Nothing to report".

      The surounding allied forces were instructed to not go near the isolated German so that they could get more examples of the machine sending the same message.

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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