Martin Postranecky | 16 May 14:59 2016

Fwd: GCHQ comes out of the shadows and joins Twitter

Monday 16 May 2016

GCHQ comes out of the shadows and joins Twitter

By Tom Whitehead, Security Editor

It spends its days on the darkest recesses of the internet but GCHQ has
emerged from the shadows to become the first UK spy agency to join the

The listening post has launched a Twitter account as part of its drive
for more transparency and posted its first message “Hello World” at
11.02am on Monday.

Officials admitted the intelligence agency may be joining the party
“slightly late” but insisted it was a “big step”.

Those hoping for a blizzard of secrets being posted online will be
disappointed but the agency has promised quizzes, info on its history
and regular debates.

GCHQ has been under pressure to be more open following the furore around
the leak of its methods by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.....
(Continue reading)

Martin Postranecky | 15 Apr 10:42 2016

BOOK : Saving Bletchley Park, The story of the saving of the home of modern computing by Sue Black

In case you've not seen it - the book is now out...

Saving Bletchley Park
The story of the saving of the home of modern computing by Sue Black

The Synopsis
This is a story about saving Bletchley Park, one of the UK’s most
important sites of historical significance. It begins with Alan Turing
and the team of codebreakers who worked there during World War II, and
it ends with plans to transform it into the world class heritage and
education centre it deserves to be. In between is the story of the
hundreds of people who have dedicated years of hard work and
determination to save it.

This is also a story about technology, and how it can be employed to
extraordinary effect. Bletchley Park was the birthplace of the modern
computer – 70 years later, this technology enabled a social media
campaign that helped to secure Bletchley Park’s long term future. That
same technology will also help to fund this book – a fitting testament
to the achievements of this remarkable team of computing pioneers.

In this book, you’ll learn about some of the mysterious work that took
place at Bletchley Park, and the significance this had to the outcome of
World War II. You’ll also find out about Alan Turing – technology
pioneer, mathematical genius and one of the most remarkable Britons who
ever lived. It’s also the story of the thousands of women who worked at
Bletchley Park – an inspiration for the growing number of women working
in the field of computing and technology.
(Continue reading)

Martin Postranecky | 3 Apr 21:10 2016

Fwd: Bletchley Park : Code-breaking's Forgotten Genius

In case you had not seen it, it is now available on YouTube :

Bletchley Park : Code-breaking's Forgotten Genius

Documentary looking at Gordon Welchman, a codebreaker crucial to the
allies defeating the Nazis in World War II. Filmed extensively at
Bletchley Park.

Gordon Welchman was one of the original elite codebreakers crucial to
the allies defeating the Nazis in World War II. He is the forgotten
genius of Bletchley Park.

Martin Postranecky | 29 Mar 14:11 2016

OBITUARY : Professor Keith Jeffery

Saturday February 20 2016

OBITUARY : Professor Keith Jeffery

- Jeffery liked to cook and host friends

Official historian of the Secret Intelligence Service who chronicled its 
first 40 years

For more than 80 years after it was set up in 1909, the existence of the 
Secret Intelligence Service — MI6 — was not acknowledged by the British 
government. It only acquired a legal basis in 1994, and given its 
culture of secrecy, it was a surprise when, just a decade later, it was 
announced that its centenary would be marked by an official history. 
Moreover, the writing of that was to be entrusted not to an Oxbridge 
academic, but to a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast, 
Keith Jeffery.....
(Continue reading)

Martin Postranecky | 25 Mar 14:56 2016

OBITUARY : Margaret Rodgers, wireless operator

Thursday 24 Mar 2016

OBITUARY : Margaret Rodgers, wireless operator

Wireless operator in the WRNS who intercepted enemy signals

Margaret Rodgers, who has died aged 95, was a WRNS wireless operator who
provided raw material to Bletchley Park for the cryptanalysts to decode.

She was born Margaret Elizabeth Hodgson at Bromley on March 26 1920 and
educated at Bromley High School. After leaving school she took a course
in domestic science ( known as the “brides’ course” ), and a long tour
of Switzerland. More useful, from the point of view of her wartime work,
were her knowledge of Morse code and the signaller’s badge she had
earned in the Girl Guides.

Returning to Britain at the outbreak of war, in 1940 she volunteered for
the WRNS and was accepted for training at Greenwich. Her course, in
classrooms in the attic of Queen Anne block at the Royal Naval College,
was much disrupted during the Blitz on London by the need to traipse
down to the wine-cellars during air-raids. Once she was caught in the
open in Greenwich Park and showered by dirt as she threw herself on the

In late 1940 she was given the rank of Chief Wren ( Wireless
Telegraphist ) Special Operator and assigned to top secret work in the
Y-service. The Y stood for Wireless Intercept, and her role was to
listen to German and Italian Morse code and provide the raw material for
the cryptanalysts at Bletchley.
(Continue reading)

Martin Postranecky | 18 Mar 12:55 2016

Fwd: The unsung genius who secured Britain's computer defences

Friday 11 Mar 2016

The unsung genius who secured Britain's computer defences
and paved the way for safe online shopping

The story behind the work of James Ellis, one of Britain’s great unsung
heroes, and his role in strengthening the country’s national security
can today be revealed in full for the first time

By Patrick Sawer

To his neighbours James Ellis seemed a man of unremarkable anonymity,
leaving his home in Cheltenham’s leafy Leckhampton Hill each morning in
the timeworn manner of countless office workers.

“None of our friends or neighbours had any idea what he did,” says his
widow Brenda. “To be honest, I had no idea what he did until years after 
his death.”

In fact Ellis was one of Britain’s great unsung heroes - a latter-day
Alan Turing, whose work led to ground-breaking techniques for keeping
our country safe from today’s threat of devastating digital attacks.

But although his pioneering work as a brilliant cryptographer and
mathematician at GCHQ, the Government’s secret listening centre, paved
the way for some of the methods used to tackle cyber terrorism and crime 
today, his role has been largely forgotten.

Now his former bosses in the usually ultra-secretive world of GCHQ have
(Continue reading)

Martin Postranecky | 18 Mar 12:47 2016

Fwd: Secret letter from Dwight D Eisenhower praising the code breakers of Bletchley Park for their contribution to the war effort goes on public display

Tuesday 15 Mar 2016

Letter reveals Bletchley Park code breakers
secretly thanked by General Eisenhower for "priceless" work

Secret letter from Dwight D Eisenhower praising the code breakers of
Bletchley Park for their contribution to the war effort goes on public

By Patrick Sawer

A previously secret letter from US President Dwight D Eisenhower
praising the “priceless” work of the Bletchley Park code breakers in
helping to win the war went on public display for the first time yesterday.

The letter was sent at the end of the Second World War by General
Eisenhower, who had been Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe,
to Sir Stewart Menzies, wartime chief of the Secret Intelligence
Service, and had previously hung on the wall of the office of the Chief
of MI6.

It has now been put on public view, illustrating they importance the US
Government placed on the work of the Bletchley Park code breakers in
helping to defeat the Nazis.

It is the first time anyone outside of the closed world of the secret
intelligence services will have seen the document.

In the letter, dated 12 July 1945, President Eisenhower expressed his
(Continue reading)

Martin Postranecky | 17 Mar 11:38 2016

OBITUARY : Lord Briggs

Thursday March 17 2016

OBITUARY : Lord Briggs

Leading British historian and educationist who masterfully chronicled 
the Victorian era and helped to establish the University of Sussex

Lord Briggs was one of the most remarkable academic figures of his time. 
A pioneering historian whose books on Victorian society opened up large 
areas of knowledge that other historians neglected. You can read Briggs 
on Victorian cities, people and things, on steam and transportation, 
public health and education, science and technology, music and 
literature, food and drink, sport and public entertainment, books and 
broadcasting, Chartism and the Channel Islands. He also played a central 
part in the evolution of the University of Sussex, of which he was 
vice-chancellor. Under Briggs it was widely dubbed “Balliol-by-the-Sea”.....

....From 1942 to 1945, Briggs served officially in the Intelligence 
Corps, but in reality as a cryptographer with the Ultra team at 
Bletchley Park, an intellectual environment he greatly enjoyed, 
describing it as his “second university”. In 1944, still “in uniform”, 
he was given a fellowship at Worcester College, Oxford, where he turned 
to teaching PPE. Briggs soon established himself as one of the bright, 
radical new stars in the Oxford firmament. He became Reader in Recent 
Social and Economic History in 1950.....
(Continue reading)

Martin Postranecky | 27 Feb 13:54 2016

Fwd: Singer Katherine Jenkins performs at GCHQ

Thursday 25 Feb 2016

Singer Katherine Jenkins performs at GCHQ

Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins told staff they were her 'heroes' as she
performed at GCHQ headquarters in Cheltenham

By Sophie Jamieson, video source GCHQ

Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins told GCHQ staff they were her “heroes” as
she gave a concert to workers at the intelligence agency at their
headquarters in Cheltenham.

She performed songs including Habanera from Carmen and the Rugby anthem
World in Union before 450 staff members who won tickets to the event.

The performance was to praise the cooperation between civilians and
military to tackle terrorists, criminals and cyber threats.

“You guys are absolutely amazing. I know that you don’t get the
recognition because you can’t tell anybody, but trust me, we really
appreciate that you keep us safe,” she told her audience.....

(Continue reading)

Martin Postranecky | 21 Feb 23:32 2016

Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Eric 'Winkle' Brown: Celebrated British pilot dies, aged 97

Sunday 21 February 2016

Eric 'Winkle' Brown : Celebrated British pilot dies, aged 97

One of the most famous British pilots, Capt Eric "Winkle" Brown, has
died at the age of 97.

He was the Royal Navy's most decorated pilot and held the world record
for flying the greatest number of different types of aircraft, 487.

During World War Two Capt Brown flew fighter aircraft and witnessed the
liberation of Bergen Belsen concentration camp.

He died at the East Surrey Hospital, Redhill, after a short illness.

A statement released by his family said: "It is with deep regret that
the passing of Captain Eric Melrose Brown CBE DSC AFC is announced.

"Eric was the most decorated pilot of the Fleet Air Arm in which service
he was universally known as 'Winkle' on account of his diminutive stature.

"He also held three absolute Guinness World Records, including for the
number of aircraft carrier deck landings and types of aeroplane flown."....
(Continue reading)

Martin Postranecky | 16 Feb 15:40 2016

Fwd: Polish codebreakers 'cracked Enigma before Alan Turing'

Tuesday 16 Feb 2016

Polish codebreakers 'cracked Enigma before Alan Turing'

Diplomats say Poland's key part in the deciphering the German system of
codes in WWII has largely been overlooked

By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor

Alan Turing could not have cracked the Enigma Code without the help of
Polish mathematicians and it is time to "right the wrong" and
acknowledge their contribution, the Polish government has said.

Deciphering the German system is believed to have shortened World War
Two by two years and saved countless lives.

But few people realise that early Enigma codes had already been broken
by the Poles who then passed on the knowledge to Britain shortly before
the outbreak of war......

- "I think there was an audible sigh in Polish cinemas when our
contribution was reduced to just one line."
Dr Grazyna Zebrowska
(Continue reading)