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Alan Turing

The Legacy

Until the release of the Oscar-nominated film The Imitation Game in 2014, the name ‘Alan Turing’ was not very widely known. But Turing’s work during the Second World War was so crucial that Winston Churchill acknowledged his role, saying that Turing made the single biggest contribution to Allied victory. Who was Turing and what did he do that was so important?

Mathematician

Alan Turing was a brilliant mathematician. Born in London in 1912, he studied at both Cambridge and Princeton universities. He was already working part-time for the British Government’s Code and Cypher School before the Second World War broke out. In 1939, Turing took up a full-time role at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire – where top secret work was carried out to decipher the military codes used by Germany and its allies. Read More >
Battle For The Atlantic
Only one member of the German high command Admiral Karl Donitz questioned the security of Enigma and insisted on an additional rotor/reflector for Enigmas for use by his coveted Uboat arm and also the use of an extra short signal code/key book. The “traffic” this created was known at Bletchley Park as “Shark” and brought many challenges to Alan Turing and his team in Hut 8 and was much more problematic to solve! This said the breaking of “Shark” was crucial to the Atlantic war and ended the “happy time” for the German Wolfpacks!
The World At War
Cracking the enigma code was vital in every theatre of the war from North Africa to Stalingrad from the Balkans to Normandy and proved to be the Ace card in helping our brave forces blunt the German war machine at every level! The stock answer when the question is asked how crucial was cracking Enigma? The answer is it shortened the war by two years! This though does not take into account that by diluting the concentration on the amazing array of new super weapons such as 262 jets, stealth Uboats and most crucially the V2 Ballistic missiles that had they been armed with even a rudimentary Nuclear warhead the whole outcome of the war could have been very different indeed!
The Imitation Game
The film “The Imitation Game” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing was helpful in bringing the crucial work done at Bletchley Park and all the outstations to the public’s attention. Crucial parts were overlooked such as Gordon Welchman the polish input and so on but this was a film not a documentary. Ironically as the film hit our cinemas our work on a real imitation machine was pressing on and the first prototype was unveiled to Bletchley Park for approval.

“The line between the ‘mechanical’ and the ‘intelligent’ was very, very slightly blurred.”

Alan Turing
 

Bletchley Park Hut 8

Mathematical Genius

Fellow at Kings College Cambridge

“Father of the Computer”

Bletchley Park Hut 6

Traffic Analysis Specialist

Fellow and later Dean of Sidney Sussex Cambridge

“Father of Signals Intelligence”

Collectively Named ‘Ultra’

1930’s ‘Government Code and Cypher School’

Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, England

Now attracts over 250,000 visitors a year

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