To mark the MBE awarded today to former Bletchley Park codebreaker Jerry Roberts I thought I’d share a handful of the pictures I took a few weeks back of D Block – BP’s army, airforce and naval Enigma deciphering operation. D Block is closed to the public but as a BP volunteer I was lucky enough to get a VIP tour of the building.
During the war, thousands of people – mostly women – worked 24 hours a day in this flat-roofed, concrete reinforced building, deciphering and translating the German armed forces’ operations messages. Much of the Allies’ preparations for D Day took place inside its walls, although it was F Block (demolished in 1987) and H Block (which now houses The National Museum of Computing) which deciphered a much stronger and more sophisticated cypher – Lorenz.
Lorenz was the cypher Hitler used to personally communicate with the German high command and with 12 wheels per machine to Enigma’s three to four, it was a million times stronger than Enigma. Those were the messages read by Roberts and his colleagues – 64,000 of them.
The Lorenz SZ42 –
Jerry Roberts at Bletchley Park last year (photo from The National Museum of Computing) –
Go here to listen to Jerry Roberts speaking to Radio 5 Live about Lorenz and his MBE.