Hastings and Rother U3A

HUGH Davies gave members an interesting talk on Enigma and Bletchley Park where the Computer Age started.

Having signed the Official Secrets Act codebreakers and workers at Bletchley Park were not allowed to speak about it for 30 years and indeed many have not spoken about it even now, which left it as a place shrouded in mystery.

When it was in danger of being demolished, a trust was set up to gradually restore the delapidated buildings to give visitors an insight into its secret workings.

The German Enigma code is polyalphabetic, meaning letters are substituted differently on each use. With more than 150 million, million, million variations it would have been unbreakable without the intervention of the German users who did not follow the manual they were given.

But information was not fed directly into Bletchley Park as it was vital to keep its whereabouts secret. There were several listening stations spread across the armed forces, ‘Y’ stations, employing 10,000 people, who gathered information and then fed it into Bletchley (a civilian operation), which employed a similar number. Apart from Enigma Germans of corse had other codes and members were interested to learn that Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca was used as a codebook in Cairo.

Hugh assured us visitors today, who are likely in a year to outstrip the number employed there during the war, would find a world-class museum, with a statue of Alan Turing, the man largely responsible for the advent of modern computers with the development of Colossus which helped so much in speedily working out the daily cyphers being used in Enigma messages.

The next talk will be on June 23 at St Peter’s Community Hall, Old Town Bexhill, when Steve Migden will be telling members about the Anatomy of an Orchestra. The meeting starts at 10.15am and refreshments are served from 9.30am.

We welcome anyone interested to attend a monthly meeting as a visitor and to find out more about our organisation before you join. You will have to sign in as a visitor, when you will be introduced to a Welcome Team member who will chat to you about our branch.

If you unable to attend a monthly meeting we also have a monthly coffee morning on the second Monday of the month at Azur, St Leonards in the restaurant between 10-midday where you can talk to some members of the committee to find out more.

It costs £17 a year to belong, and then all the talks are free, but you will need to bring money for refreshments.

Why not give it a go?