The Other Bletchley Park

Discussion in 'Top Secret' started by Benjamin_Field, Nov 16, 2007.

  1. Benjamin_Field

    Benjamin_Field Junior Member

    Hello,

    My grandfather, Glyn Miller, was with the Royal Signals. He has now passed away but before he died he told me that a man got in touch with him with the intention to discuss some messages which Glyn had intercepted. Apparently the 'norm' for these intercepted messages was for them to be sent to Bletchley Park, however on a number of occassions Glyn was told to send them somewhere else. Now, the man who got in touch with him claimed that many other messages were also sent to this other station, where many people worked - doing the exact same job as in Bletchley Park. But the peculiar thing is that the M.O.D refuse to admit that another place even existed, let alone people there were working on decrypting messages.

    I apologise for the vague nature of this message but all I have is a fuzzy memory of a wine fuelled conversation with my late grandfather.

    I would love to hear from anybody who has any information on what this might be about as not only am I interested but I am also a film-maker and am looking at the possibility of making this into a project for the future so that the secret workers of the 'Other Bletchley Park' will get the recognition they deserve.

    Many thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing any stories you may have, however irrelevant they may seem.

    Cheers

    Ben
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Hi Ben,

    Welcome to the forum.

    Apart from Bletchley there were other 'outstations' scattered around the countryside,
    usually in large country houses that had been requisitioned, surrounded by landscaped grounds behind high stone walls. One such house was Gayhurst Court where the machine rooms used for decoding were staffed by WRNS. There were other 'outstations' at nearby Wavendon House and Whaddon Hall.

    Not much I'm afraid.

    Regards
    Peter.
     
  3. Benjamin_Field

    Benjamin_Field Junior Member

    Thanks Peter,

    I'm compiling a list of outstations that people mention. I'm hoping to get in touch with people or relatives of those who may have worked in a place that they realise has not recieved any recognition for doing the job they did.

    It is going to be a huge task. But quite interesting if indeed there has been a station that no one knows about.

    Cheers

    Ben
     
  4. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Ben

    Have you read Codebreakers by Hinsley and Stripp ?
    Good to read book.
     
  5. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I would add Andrew Hodges's publication, "Alan Turing The Enigma" for an understanding of Turing and his achievements at Bletchley Park.

    Overall, Bletchley performance was based on teamwork from the recording of the wireless intercepts to the code breakers. For instance there were about 10.000 staff selected for their language skills.Quite a number were female graduates who were responsible for the intercepting of German signals traffic and higher level duties.

    There were many others were involved in the front line of operations.The breaking of the Hitler/ Field Commander "Tunny" intercepts was a particular achievement by Bill Tutte, a chemical graduate who had a flair for mathematics and who broke the Lorenz cipher machine SZ40 which was a more complicated machine than the Enigma having 12 wheels against the Enigma's 4 wheels.They all played their part.

    Bletchley Park and it's past function was a secret until 1967, sometimes referred to as Station X and remained so until people were allowed to talk.As Churchill put it,the Blechley Park staff were "the geese that laid the golden eggs, and never cackled".Most apt.

    One linguist recorded that she never told her husband what she was involved in and he died post war without ever being aware of her role.She records she went on to use her translating skills and was rewarded by an increase in pay of 6 shillings a week.

    Can't leave this post without recommending Harry Hinsley's USAF Harmon Memorial Lecture entitled "The Intelligence Revolution. A Historical Perspective". This a good lecture and revealing to those who would wish to understand more about the intelligence support that was responsible for the Allies having a "fly on the German walls"
     
  6. Christos

    Christos Discharged

    I also have an alchohol fueled coversation to speak of....

    Several years ago, a friend of mine living in Darwin, Australia, told me about his mother, and the job she used to do during wartime.......

    Dennis was a man whose father was an engineer for Rolls Royce, and not just any engineer either.....he had worked on the Rolls Royce 'Merlin' engine, and in his possession he had a Merlin handbook with his fathers extensive notes about the engiunes and it's various quirks and foibles....

    But he told us about his mother...."What did she do?" I enquired...

    "Well," he said," she used to work in a sweet factory......", and then he paused, and before we could reply, he said out loud...."Sweet factory?...Garbage!"

    I innocently asked him what he meant.....
    He said, "The factory she worked at wasn't producing 'sweets' at all...it was producing VALVES, ALL OF THE SAME TYPE.......

    The crux of what he was saying went over my head....he clarified it
    "Look.....there is really only one thing that that factory could have been supplying.....working day and night as they were.....The "COLOSSUS" ...the first 'computer' for code breaking, was run by thousands of valves that had to be changed EVERY 24 hours.....it even one of these valves failed, the entire system would be rendered unuseable, due to its lack of sophisticated memory banks....this factory was especially set up to see that it did not happen under any circumstances....

    I still laugh when I think of innocent little Dennis asking his wartime mother what she REALLY did for a job.....and why she could never seem to bring him home any 'sweets' from the factory!
     
  7. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Thanks Peter,

    I'm compiling a list of outstations that people mention. I'm hoping to get in touch with people or relatives of those who may have worked in a place that they realise has not recieved any recognition for doing the job they did.

    It is going to be a huge task. But quite interesting if indeed there has been a station that no one knows about.

    Cheers

    Ben

    Could the other place be Eastcote? It's in north-west London, on the Met line of the Tube. A Government base there was also used for decryption during the war. And apparently BP relocated there after the war until GCHQ at Cheltenham was built. Eastcote then became an American base, and think it still is.

    I used to walk past the place every day on my way to school in my youth.
     
  8. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    I used to work at GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) in Cheltenham and had regular visits to a wartime listening station at Great Malvern, where certain arrays were still in use. I know that intercept stations are not what you are after but the cryptanalysis could have been done virtually anywhere. Usually, as Peter says, in large country houses far from prying eyes.
     
  9. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Discharged

    my step grandad has ww2 radios buried in his back garden.yours,lee
     
  10. Benjamin_Field

    Benjamin_Field Junior Member

    Thank you all for your input on this - I've been a little pre-occupied in recent months with various other commitments but I shall certainly look into your suggestions, especially Eastcote.

    Thanks again and hope you're all well

    Ben
     
  11. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Thank you all for your input on this - I've been a little pre-occupied in recent months with various other commitments but I shall certainly look into your suggestions, especially Eastcote.
    Thanks again and hope you're all well
    Ben

    Eastcote was where most of GCHQs codebreaking activity was after the war. Another book to look out for is GCHQ: The Secret Wireless War 1900-86 by Nigel West (aka Rupert Allason, Tory MP and liar), out of print but don't pay a silly price for one. Some places mentioned in this (with photos) are Fort Bridgewood; Hanslope Park (Diplomatic Wireless Service); Adstock Manor, Stanmore and Grayhurst (Bombe outstations); Whaddon (SCU HQ); Arkley (RSS); the very secret Special Wireless Group; Grendon Underwood House, Thame Park and Frawley Court (SOE wireless stations); and a few others. Probably get a knock on the door at 1 am now.......

    geoff
     
  12. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    .....The "COLOSSUS" ...the first 'computer' for code breaking, was run by thousands of valves that had to be changed EVERY 24 hours.....it even one of these valves failed, the entire system would be rendered unuseable
    Tommy Flowers the Engineer who designed this had one big secret; leave the valves switched on and they last much longer. The valves lasted MUCH longer than 24 hours, but with 10 Colossus machines in service by VE day, each with 2,500 valves probably meant some valves had to be replaced in every 24 hour period. The order for machine number 11 was canceled after VE day.
     
  13. Brian Shepherd

    Brian Shepherd New Member

    My mother was a Wren and posted at 'Station X' during the war. For many years she would not talk about it. She had been told what went on there HAD to remain a secret and so it was for her. Then there was a programme on TV that revealed what it was all about and she felt then she could talk. The problem was she never really understood what she had been doing! She said she used to have to change 'wheels' on a big machine and that was about all we ever got! She did know it was important though. I have a picture on which she had written 'Gayhurst Manor Northampton where I worked in the war' on the back if that helps.
     
  14. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Brian and welcome to the site

    Gayhurst - Wikipedia

    Gayhurst had an outstation from the Bletchley Park codebreaking establishment, where some of the Bombes used to decode German Enigma messages in World War Two were housed.

    TD
     
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