Bletchley Park podcast

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park is the home of British codebreaking and a birthplace of modern information technology. It played a major role in World War Two, producing secret intelligence which had a direct and profound influence on the outcome of the conflict. The site is now a museum and heritage attraction, open daily. The Bletchley Park Podcast brings you fascinating stories from Veterans, staff and volunteers on the significance and continued relevance of this site today.

232 Episodes

  • Bletchley Park podcast

    E131 - Secrets of the Supermarina


    November 2021  Many visitors to Bletchley Park are familiar with the story of breaking Enigma and reading German and even Japanese codes. But equally important work was done on Italian ciphers. Not only were the Codebreakers able to read Italian naval messages, before and during the war, but this information was used to decisive effect in the Battle for North Africa, and the ultimate defeat of Italy in 1943. In this It Happened Here episode, Bletchley Park’s Research Historian Dr David Kenyon reveals the secrets of one of Bletchley Park’s lesser-known decryption successes. As always, grateful thanks go to Dr Ben Thompson for voicing our archival documents. Featuring the following contributors from our Oral History Archive: Mavis Batey Rozanne Colchester Image: HM Fulmine from the Private Archive of Burzagli Family (Public Domain) #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2,
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    E130 – Action This Day


    October 2021  On the 21st of October 1941, four of Bletchley Park’s Codebreakers sent a plea for more staff and resources in a now notorious letter to the Prime Minister. Demand for Bletchley Park’s work was increasing, and the organisation was facing a crisis.  Churchill was won over, adding the note ‘Action This Day’ to the document. But perhaps the changes that followed weren’t just the result of the Prime Minister’s influence. In this ‘It Happened Here’ episode, Dr Thomas Cheetham explores the problems the Codebreakers were facing and how this letter was only part of the wider story. Thanks as always for voicing our archival documents to Dr Ben Thompson, and to Geoffrey Welchman who recreates the letter co-authored by his grandfather. Featuring the following contributors from our Oral History Archive: Sir Arthur Bonsall Elizabeth Marshall Mimi Gallilee Arnold Hargreaves Gwendoline Herbert Barbara Hart Judith Wainer Image: ©Bletchley Park Trust 2021 #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2,
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    E129 - Target England


    September 2021  After Britain’s failure at Dunkirk and the Fall of France, the Germans seemed unstoppable. An invasion of Britain by Germany seemed the next logical step. In 1940, Britain and Bletchley Park prepared for war on the Home Front. As the German air campaign brought air combat with the Battle of Britain and bombs by night during the Blitz, the RAF - supported by intelligence from Bletchley Park - fought back. In this It Happened Here episode, Research Officer Dr Thomas Cheetham is our guide to Britain’s finest hour. Special thanks go to Dr Ben Thompson for voicing our archival documents. In memoriam to the Veterans featured in this episode, Rolf Noskwith, Eileen Younghusband and Sir Arthur Bonsall. Image: Prime Minister Winston Churchill inspecting members of Coventry's Warden Service. ©Mirrorpix #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2, #BOB80,
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    E128 - Whitehall 7947 - The Early Days Exhibition


    August 2021  Hindsight and the lifting of decades of secrecy, allows us to know that by 1945 Bletchley Park had become a ‘codebreaking factory’ supplying war winning intelligence to the Allies ultimate victory.  But what was it like for the 185 members of staff on Monday the 4th of September 1939? And … who were they? Supported by the UK government’s Culture Recovery Fund, our new exhibition ‘Early Days’ covers the events of 1938 to late 1939 and tells the story of the first Bletchley Park Codebreakers. Exhibitions Manager Erica Munro guides us through the 5 scenes of the exhibition, the challenges of turning the start of the codebreaking story into a physical gallery and many of the highlights visitors will see. All of this, within one of the first rooms to be used by the Codebreakers in autumn 1939.  As his first major project when start at the museum, Research Officer Dr Thomas Cheetham, explains the painstaking work that has gone into the least documented period of Bletchley Park. This has led to being able to list every one of those 185 members of staff turning up for work on the second day of World War Two. Special thanks go to Dr Ben Thompson for voicing our archival documents. Image: ©Bletchley Park Trust 2021 #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2,
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    E127 - Top Secret Misinformation Part 2


    July 2021  In late 2020 we asked on social media for any questions our listeners wanted the podcast team to answer. We had so many that we needed to record a second episode that originally we had planned for January 2021. Unfortunately due to COVID restrictions this wasn’t possible … but now, we are back. In this episode, Exhibitions Manager Erica Munro, Research Historian Dr David Kenyon, Research Officer Dr Thomas Cheetham and podcast producer Mark Cotton, will be shining a light on some famous Bletchley Park myths and answering some fascinating questions from our brilliant listeners. Many thanks to our listeners and followers for setting us these challenges. Image: ©Bletchley Park Trust 2021 #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2,
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    E126 - Barbarossa


    June 2021    Eighty years ago in June 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in what Hitler hoped would be a lightning campaign to destroy Bolshevism and provide ‘living space’ for his empire in the east.    The result was four years of brutal conflict which shaped the world we live in today.   What did the codebreakers at Bletchley Park know about the Germans’ plans of attack? Was Stalin warned? And how did the war in the east play out at BP?   In this It Happened Here episode we are joined by our Research Historian Dr David Kenyon to tell us more about the signals intelligence picture on the eastern front.   Special thanks go to Dr Ben Thompson for voicing our archival documents.   Image: Public Domain   #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2, #OralHistory, #AudioMo
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    E125 - Fall Gelb Part Two


    June 2021    By late May 1940 the Germans have arrived at the French coast, cutting the Allied forces in two. Their risky invasion plan ‘Fall Gelb’ (or ‘Case Yellow’) has paid off.  For the Allies, things will only get worse - an evacuation of the British forces from Dunkirk, the capture of Paris and the ultimate humiliation at Compiègne.   It also marked a turning point for Bletchley Park. The attack led the Germans to change their Enigma procedures which had been exploited so successfully by the Hut 6 team. It took a creative approach, as well as some lazy enemy operating procedures, to restore Bletchley Park’s capability in reading German messages.   In the second part of this special ‘It Happened Here’ episode, Dr Thomas Cheetham guides us through the dramatic world events that could have seen Bletchley Park lose the ability to read Enigma for the rest of the war.    Special thanks go to Gus Munro and Dr Ben Thompson for voicing our archival documents.   ©Bletchley Park Trust 2021   #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2, #OralHistory,
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    E124 - Fall Gelb Part One


    June 2021    In May 1940, the much-anticipated German attack on France brings the Phoney War to an end. The French have the largest land army in the world, the Maginot Line giving them hundreds of miles of defences and they know the route the Germans will take. But in the space of only a few weeks, the entire strategic course of World War Two is turned on its head. The Germans have gambled on a new invasion plan, ‘Fall Gelb’ (or ‘Case Yellow’) to set them on a risky route through the Ardennes and a dash to the coast.   With so many dramatic events happening in such a short period of time, we will be telling the story of ‘Fall Gelb’ over two ‘It Happened Here’ episodes.   In this first part, Dr Thomas Cheetham takes us through the planning and first phases of the operation, and the German and Allied intelligence activity that surrounded it.    Special thanks go to Sarah Langston and Dr Ben Thompson for voicing our archival documents.   Image: Commander Denniston’s 1940 Diary ©Bletchley Park Trust 2021   #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2, #OralHistory,
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    E123 - Oral History Special No. 6


    April 2021    Patricia Johnston’s idyllic childhood in Rangoon came to an abrupt end on the 7th of December 1941, with the attack on Pearl Harbour. In early 1942 with the Japanese invasion getting ever closer she was flown out with her siblings and arrived in India, without her parents.      After settling her two brothers in boarding school Patricia’s war really began. She realised after completing her training that nursing wasn’t for her and transferred to the recently formed Women's Auxiliary Corps. Following a first posting in a Camouflage School and receiving a commission, her link to Bletchley Park began when she joined an SLU Unit as an Intelligence Officer.    Based at military command posts around the world Special Liaison Units received Ultra reports via secure links run by Special Communication Units. They then passed this intelligence directly on to the commanders in the field to ensure the Ultra secret was protected.   Oral History Volunteer Mike Chapman joins Pat to travel back 75 years to map out not only Pat’s wartime service but also that of her husband and fellow Bletchley Park Veteran, Bill Sanglier.     We hear of her embarrassment of paying school fees with damp money, the Japanese pilot she said a prayer for, how an infamous Cold War Russian spy was taught to cook curry by Pat’s mother and how working in Military Intelligence could at times feel like living in cloud cuckoo land.     Image, courtesy of Mrs Patricia Johnston.   #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2, #OralHistory,
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    E122 - Never Alone


    April 2021    Bletchley Park’s latest temporary exhibition is called ‘Never Alone’ and asks ‘what happens when everything is connected?’ Based on an exhibition developed and designed by the National Science and Media Museum, ‘Never Alone’ explores the popularity and power of smart devices.   There are now more devices connected to the internet than people on the planet. ‘Smart’ gadgets are becoming part of our lives, making us safer, bringing people together and making everyday tasks easier. In the exhibition, we explore the issues behind these gadgets. We discover some wartime objects and stories that show how concerns about privacy and surveillance aren’t unique to the internet age. You are invited to think about the decisions you make when you click ‘OK’, and to consider what being connected means to you.   In this episode we meet two people who have loaned us objects for display, ethical hacker Ken Munro of Pen Test Partners and local museum professional Amy Doolan. We start by taking a tour of the exhibition in Hut 12.   Image: ©Bletchley Park Trust 2021   #BPark, #Bletchleypark, #WW2,

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