70 years of Bletchley Park
Over 115 World War Two veterans accompanied by friends and family returned to Bletchley Park this weekend for a very special Enigma Reunion, which celebrated the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the original codebreakers in 1939. Gathering together in the sunshine outside the Mansion, they talked proudly with visitors about the work they did at Bletchley Park during the war, which no doubt saved 1000s of lives and helped to shorten the war by two years.
Simon Greenish, director, Bletchley Park Trust, said, “It was a great privilege to welcome so many veterans to Bletchley Park in this special anniversary year – more than twice as many came as in previous years. Attracted by the opportunity to meet and speak with these unsung heroes who did such important work, over 2500 visitors from all over the world also flocked to Bletchley Park over the weekend.” During their day at the Park, veterans were given demonstrations of the Bombe and Colossus machines, on which many of them worked. Bletchley Park volunteers listened eagerly as they told their stories and even passed on tips about how best to look after the machines. Former codebreakers, Mavis and Keith Batey who met and married during their time at
Bletchley Park, were among those who attended the event. During the launch of her new book, ‘Dilly: The man who broke Enigma’, Mavis, who was known as one of ‘Dilly’s girls’, talked at length about her time working with the legendary codebreaker in Cottage Three breaking codes from the Italian naval, Abwehr and other Enigma machines.
One of the main attractions of the Enigma Reunion weekend was a unique exhibition of the largest collection of rare enigma and other cypher machines ever gathered together in one place. For some veterans, this was the first time they had seen the very machines whose codes they had helped to crack. Re-enactors gave the day a 1940’s flavour, the highlight being a 1940’s fashion show, which brought back many fond memories, such as night dresses made from parachutes and brassieres before under-wiring!