Martin Postranecky | 25 Jan 13:38 2015

Re: Wartime science... ( FWDED from J.V. Field )

> Dear Dr Postranecky,
>      I'd be grateful if you would forward this to the list.
>    Thank you for the letter to The Times about the alleged  scrapping of the
> Colossus machines at the end of WW2. At the risk of telling everyone what
> they already know, I am making one more attempt to kill a silly story.
>    What the letter says is largely false. The story that Churchill ordered the
> destruction of all the Colossus machines is not only implausible but
> provably untrue.  Pieces of two Colossus machines were used for the
> Manchester machine (we have a minute from Max Newman requesting permission
> to take the pieces from Bletchley Pak, in the summer of 1945). And another
> document, also in the National Archives (UK), written in 1974 by D. C.
> Horwood, one of the engineers who worked on the original Colossi, and who
> went to work at GCHQ after the war, a document declassified in 2004, tells
> us that at least two Colossus machines were taken to Eastcote and then to
> Cheltenham, where he does not say what they were used for. Details will be
> found in the forthcoming edition of the General Report on Tunny (to be
> published by Wiley this year).
>   It is obviously fair enough to doubt that Churchill was in all respects a
> flawless leader even in wartime, but this particular story is simply not
> true.
> Yours sincerely,
> J. V. Field
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Martin Postranecky | 24 Jan 21:54 2015

Wartime science...

The Times
Letters to the Editor

January 24 2015

Wartime science...

Sir, Ben Macintyre’s excellent article ( Jan 23 ) fails to mention one
crucial piece of scientific history. At the end of the Second World War
Churchill threw away a chance for Britain to lead the way in the
development of computers by disbanding the team at Bletchley Park and
ordering the computers themselves to be destroyed. Tom Flowers, who built
Colossus, went back to his telephone work, and although Alan Turing wanted
Flowers to work with him on computers he was not allowed to reveal why
Flowers was the right man for the job. So Flowers stayed with the

Martin Postranecky | 22 Jan 18:42 2015

Re: Alan Turing's notebook

Good luck, John - if you can spare the odd $1m+, go ahead...(-;

I wish the notebook would stay in UK, but who is going to put
up that sort of moneys....??


On Thu, 22 Jan 2015, John Alexander wrote :
> 2 days ago I had a call from Bonhams, seeking Enigma(s) etc to include 
> alongside these notes.
> Personally, I'd sooner keep Enigmas AND buy these notes :)
> Regards,
> John 

> > On 21 Jan 2015, at 23:10, Martin Postranecky <mp@...> wrote:
> > 
> > Cassandra Hatton, senior specialist in fine books and manuscripts and the 
> > history of science at Bonhams, said Turing's notes were the precursor 
> > much of the work he later did on computers. "He is working on logic and 
> > the foundations of mathematics with the aim of creating a universal 
> > language for a universal computing machine," she said.

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Martin Postranecky | 22 Jan 00:10 2015

Alan Turing's notebook

As sent to me by Martin Evans :
Martin H Evans email : mhe1000@...
( I am no longer maintaining my web-site list of British maritime-related
collections, which includes Bletchley Park. At the age of 85 I found
that I was getting too slow at updating it, and it became a burden )

A notebook belonging to the man known as the father of the computing age 
is expected to fetch at least $1m at auction.

Alan Turing's notebook is thought to date from 1942, when the Briton was 
leading the cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park in the battle to break the 
German Enigma codes.

The notebook containing 56 pages of handwritten notes was among papers 
that Turing left in his will to his friend and fellow mathematician Robin 
Gandy. Years later Gandy deposited them at the archive of King's College, 
Cambridge, but kept this notebook.

Cassandra Hatton, senior specialist in fine books and manuscripts and the 
history of science at Bonhams, said Turing;s notes were the precursor to 
much of the work he later did on computers. "He is working on logic and 
the foundations of mathematics with the aim of creating a universal 
language for a universal computing machine," she said.

The notebook will be sold on behalf of an anonymous vendor in New York
on April 13 at the Bonhams fine books and manuscripts sale...../snip/

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Martin Postranecky | 11 Jan 16:47 2015

The Deb of Bletchley Park : 'There was always a crisis, a lot of stress...

10 Jan 2015

The Deb of Bletchley Park : 'There was always a crisis, a lot of stress 
and a lot of excitement'

A new book reveals the important role women held at Bletchley Park - not 
least Jane Fawcett, an upper-class debutante

By Julia Llewellyn Smith

For 50 years, no one had the slightest idea what Jane Fawcett, and 
thousands like her, had done during the Second World War. “My colleagues 
and I were just completely out in the cold. All these wonderful heroes 
came back from the war and we were just sitting on the sidewalk, unable to 
say a word, because we’d signed the Official Secrets Act, which was for 
life,” recalls Fawcett, now a formidable 93.

But gradually over the past couple of decades, information began to 
trickle out about what Fawcett and 12,000 other very young people – of 
whom 8,000 were women – had achieved in the five years they spent at 
Bletchley Park, the code-breaking centre in Buckinghamshire whose work is 
thought to have shortened the war by two to four years.

“My husband had been in the navy and done all these heroic things in every 
quarter, so of course we all talked about him and those brilliant young 
adventurers who saved Britain – well, saved the world,” says Fawcett, 
sitting in the living room of her West-Kensington home...../snip/
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Martin Postranecky | 6 Jan 00:20 2015

Bletchley : the women's story

Sunday 04 Jan 2015

Bletchley : the women's story

Behind the great men at 'The Park' was an army of girls, and now their 
stories are told in a new book. By Sarah Rainey
By Sarah Rainey

The girl on the scarlet bicycle was a familiar sight to the residents of 
Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire, in the early Forties. Every day she 
would sail past the terraced houses on the high street. Her commute was 
tough – three miles, mostly uphill – but she was young, just 19, and 
everyone she passed remarked on her smile. She lodged with the Dickenses, 
a lorry driver and his wife, but she wasn’t from those parts. Was she a 
runaway, they wondered; perhaps a secretary with a job or a boyfriend in 
the next village ?

Rozanne Colchester was, in fact, a “Bletchleyette”. From 1942 to 1945, she 
was one of around 8,000 women drafted in from around the country to work 
at Bletchley Park, home of the Second World War codebreakers and training 
ground of Alan Turing, father of the modern computer. Colchester ( then 
Medhurst ) worked in one of Bletchley’s wooden huts, where she decoded 
messages sent between enemy fighter pilots. Like everyone at “The Park”, 
she was sworn to secrecy about her work. “You were told that if you talked 
about it, you could be shot,” she recalls. “It was all terribly exciting.”

The secrecy shrouding the activities at Bletchley lingered for years after 
the war. It wasn’t until the mid-Seventies that public discussion of the 
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Martin Postranecky | 6 Jan 00:13 2015

'It was mum's lifelong secret' : Second World War codebreaker dies

Jan 01, 2015

'It was mum's lifelong secret' : Second World War codebreaker dies, aged 

    By Mike Blackburn

Tributes have been paid to Harriet Jackson - an operative at Churchill's 
war-winning Bletchley Park secret intelligence service

A codebreaker who played her part in helping save thousands of lives and 
shorten the Second World War has died, aged 91.

Harriet Jackson, from Middlesbrough, was a secret operative at Bletchley 
Park at the height of the Second World War - helping crack intercepted 
German messages.

But until her family watched the ‘Station X’ documentary series in the 
late 1990’s they had absolutely no idea of Harriet’s top secret past.

“She was a very private person, very quiet,” said her daughter and only 
child, Sandra Graham, 66, from Linthorpe.

“We don’t think my dad Noel even knew until the 1990s when it all came 
out. It was a lifelong secret.

“My mum’s one regret was that her dad didn’t know - he would have been so 

“With her having dementia for the last few years if we hadn’t found out 
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Bill Ridgeway | 5 Jan 23:56 2015

The unbelievable truth

The Unbelievable Truth is a BBC panel game in which contestants give a presentation mainly consisting of
(amusing) lies but containing five disguised true statement.

Have a listen to the latest at Henning Wehn (German
comedian) is taunted (at 18:47) as to why kids had to be sent to the country (so they should get to know their
country better and (at 20:00) comments on the £15 admission charge to Bletchley Park and a further £5 to
see the computer as a rip-off.  The rest of the show is amusing too!


Bill Ridgeway
Bill Ridgeway | 5 Jan 19:22 2015

Talk - An evening with the Bletchley Girls by Tessa Dunlop

This may be of interest.


Bill Ridgeway
Martin Postranecky | 5 Jan 18:18 2015

BOOK : "The Secret World : Behind the Curtain of British Intelligence in World WarII and the Cold War" (fwd)

Having received this book for Christmas, I am now reading it,
and it has some interesting ( mostly caustic ) snippets and
anecdotes about personalities at B.P.

As I have never heard of this book beforehand, I thought it may
be of interest to some of you lurking on his list....:

PS : I have no connection whatsoever with the publishers etc, etc...

"The Secret World : 
Behind the Curtain of British Intelligence in World War II and the Cold 

by Hugh Trevor-Roper, E.D.R. Harrison ( Editor )

During World War II, Britain enjoyed spectacular success in the secret war 
between hostile intelligence services, enabling a substantial and 
successful expansion of British counter-espionage. Hugh Trevor-Roper's 
experiences working for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) during the 
war had a profound impact on him and he later observed the world of 
intelligence with particular sharpness. To him, the subject of wartime 
espionage was as worthy of profound investigation and reflection as events 
from the more distant past. Expressing his observations through some of 
his most ironic and entertaining prose, Trevor-Roper wrote with a freedom 
he could not express publicly due to the Official Secrets Act. Based on 
previously unpublished material - including an extraordinary and 
previously-unseen correspondence with the exiled spy Kim Philby - this 
book is a sharp, revealing and personal first-hand account of the 
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Martin Postranecky | 18 Dec 02:55 2014

Peter Wescombe - obituary

17 Dec 2014

Peter Wescombe - obituary

Peter Wescombe was a diplomat who helped to save Bletchley Park from being 
developed into a housing estate

Peter Wescombe, who has died aged 82, was a diplomat, amateur 
archaeologist and – later in life – a driving force behind the Bletchley 
Park Trust, which saved the Second World War code-breaking establishment 
from being demolished and turned into a housing estate.

In 1991 Bletchley Park, conveniently located near a railway station and 
set in 55 acres of land, was thought to be worth (with planning 
permission) more than £3 million. When a plan was conceived to redevelop 
the site, Wescombe (who had had a house at Bletchley since 1960) joined 
forces with Dr Peter Jarvis, a retired GP, calling an impromptu meeting of 
the Bletchley Archaeological & Historical Society.

He later remembered : “Peter Jarvis and I walked despondently out of a 
council meeting, where, despite our pleading, it had been decided that 
Bletchley Park should be demolished to make way for 300-plus houses, a 
petrol station and a small supermarket. In May my wife, Rowena, and I met 
with Peter and his wife, Sue, at his house… to put forward an idea. We 
would ask BT, who owned the Park, if we could hold a 'farewell reunion’ on 
the site for the wartime code breaking staff simply to say 'Thank you’ for 
their magnificent achievements. They agreed.”

As Wescombe admitted, however, they “were not being exactly honest”: the 
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