Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh have made their first visit to Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, to unveil a memorial in recognition for the secret code breaking work done there during World War II.
Bletchley Park was the wartime home of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS).
At the height of World War II, the code breakers of Bletchley Park decoded enemy messages, included ciphers generated by the famous Enigma machine, giving the Allies a huge advantage.
Many historians believe that the Bletchley Park code breaking effort shortened the war by at least two years, saving an incalculable number of lives.
The Royal party was provided with a short tour of the museum and shown some of the restoration projects which have taken place at Bletchley Park to rebuild the machines which assisted with the wartime decryption of enemy codes.
These included the Turing Bombe, brainchild of mathematical genius Alan Turing, and Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer.
The Queen was also given a demonstration of an Enigma machine which was key to breaking German secret wartime codes.
About the Bletchley Park memorial
It fulfils a commitment by the previous Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, to provide a lasting tribute to the Bletchley Park veterans.
The memorial consists of two, eight foot high slabs of Caithness stone interlinked at the top. This signifies the mutual reliance of those that worked at Bletchley Park and those that intercepted enemy transmissions at the ‘Outstations’.
One block displays the wording ‘We also served’ and the other a sculpted list of some of the 300 plus outstations that existed across the world.
There is also a Morse code message engraved on the back of the memorial, which says ‘My Most Secret Source’.
This was one of Churchill’s famous expressions, describing the valuable ‘Ultra’ intelligence, obtained from the decryption of Enigma intercepts.
Bletchley Park memorial dedication
Before she unveiled the memorial, The Queen spoke of her deep sense of admiration and gratitude for the men and women who served at Bletchley and the debt the nation owes to them for their achievements.
She also emphasised the importance of the intelligence allies with whom the UK worked, and the inspiration Bletchley provides to the intelligence services today, as they continue their vital work of protecting the people of this country.
During her visit The Queen was introduced to some of the veterans that either served at Bletchley Park or the ‘Outstations’, that intercepted the materiel that Bletchley Park processed.
These included Sir Arthur Bonsall, veteran of the Bletchley Park air section, who went on to be a Director of GCHQ.
She was also introduced to some of the relatives of deceased veterans, who had been invited to celebrate the event, including Sir John Dermot Turing, nephew of Alan Turing.
The Queen was also shown the Roll of Honour which lists the names of all of those who served at Bletchley Park and its ‘Outstations’ during the War. This has been compiled over a number of years and includes nearly 11,000 names.
Code breaking challenge
To mark Her Majesty’s visit to Bletchley Park, The Queen has issued a code cracking challenge to school children.
This challenge is open to everyone, but is aimed at children between the ages of 13 and 16 as a summer project.