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Describe the Organisation and Work of the People at Bletchley Park Essay Sample

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Introduction of TOPIC

Bletchley Park, also known as Station ‘X’, was setup in 1938 with two main aims. One was to decode the hundreds of signals and messages sent by Germany and its allies, which used simple codes. And the other was to crack the Enigma; the most important aim of Bletchley Park. Station X was set up in Milton Keynes, which is about 50 miles north of London. It was not set up in London for security reasons, and because of the risk of bombing, if war was to break out. Also as it was a rural area, it increased the secrecy, and also allowed it to expand.

During 1939, there were less than one hundred people working at Bletchley Park, yet four years later there were over 7,000. To break the Enigma, there was a need for a range of different specialists, as well as for ‘common’ workers.

The academics (code breakers) were used to cracking codes with pencil and paper, yet the Enigma was a mathematical machine and needed mainly mathematicians to break it. Therefore many of the recruits were trained in mathematics as well as in code breaking.

Allistair Dennistion, the head of GC & CS (Government Code & Cipher School) hired many recruits, mainly mathematicians. However they also needed linguists, and people with a wide range of general knowledge as well as logic (even Chess Champions were recruited). To crack the code, they had to be imaginative, logical and had to have a great deal of patience. Some of the more famous recruits were Alan Turing (a mathematician) and John Herival (a young Cambridge graduate).

However, there was also a need for other people than just the cryptographers. Without the help of the operators, caterers, cleaners, security guards etc, they may never have broken the Enigma.

In the beginning, there was no real organisation to Bletchley Park. At first, all of the different departments were crammed into the main building and a few cottages. It was not until Gordon Welchman, a young mathematician, reorganised Bletchley Park, that any real progress

could be made. Welchman soon realised that they were going to get nowhere without more manpower (as

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they were sometimes getting nearly 2000 messages a day), and this was not possible due to the organisational structure. Welchman therefore put together a paper on his proposed ideas and presented it to the Deputy Director, Commander Travis. Travis, seeing the importance of this organisational structure, gave it enthusiastic backing. Within days, these ideas were put into action.

Welshman’s ideas consisted of many different huts for specific jobs. These huts greatly increased the secrecy, as no hut knew what another hut was doing. One of the code-breakers in hut 6 described her work;

“We were very, very departmentalised. You never discussed your work with anyone your little group that worked with you. I hadn’t a clue what was going on in the rest of the park and nobody else had a clue what we were doing, except the real high ups.”

This helped to prevent any German agents finding out what was going on. No one person could actually have described all the activities of Bletchley Park in an unguarded moment.

The huts at Bletchley Park were numbered from one to fourteen, and the Blocks from A to F. Every hut in Bletchley had its own specific job, and was very important in its own way. The huts were linked together so that a message could be cracked quickly and efficiently. The different huts communicated by sending their papers through a small wooden tunnel, so that they would stay oblivious to what the others were working on. However, it is also said that the tunnel was only used to stop the papers from getting wet.

Once a Morse code operator intercepted an enemy’s message at a Y Station, they sent these messages by teleprinter to Bletchley Park. Once received, they were categorised and cross-referenced. The message was then sent to Hut 6 or 8 (Hut 6 if it was the German Army or Air force Enigma, and Hut 8 if it was the Naval Enigma). In these two huts, there was a Registration room, a Machine room, an Intercept Control room, and a Decoding room, each doing its own job. Once decoded, the message was passed to Hut 3 or Hut 4 (depended on the subject). These two huts were for analysing and translating the message. Finally the message/information was then sent to MI5 using British Type X machines.

The hut system, designed by Gordon Welchman, was used as it was well organised, professional and very efficient. With the masses of information that Bletchley Park was intercepting each day, something had to be done, and therefore the hut system had to be introduced. The organisation of Bletchley Park was crucial to it being a success. And if it was a success, the Allies would have a massive advantage over the Germans. Winston Churchill knew how important this was, and as a result gave Bletchley Park what they wanted and needed. He was greatly interested by Bletchley Park and asked to have deciphered intercepts delivered to him every day. His interest in Bletchley Park was shown when he visited it to see for himself what was going on and personally thanked the staff. All this paid off and before long, Bletchley Park was decoding the Enigma messages before the Germans could themselves.

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