Bletchley Park asks veterans to complete online Roll of Honour as the site opens up more huts

By Lucy Dunne | 03 October 2013

The Bletchley Park Trust is appealing for veterans and their families to take advantage of their new, fully searchable Roll of Honour as the site begins to open more of its famous codebreaking huts.


a group black and white photo of wartime WRENS outside a building
Bletchley Park Bombe operators at their accommodation at Crawley Grange. Mrs Ann Parker, nee White (back row, centre).© Courtesy Bletchley Park Trust
Photographs and written accounts provided by veterans of the iconic wartime centre are helping to create a fuller picture of life at Bletchley during World War Two - and making the Roll of Honour into something more than just a list of names.

The newly launched Roll of Honour carries over 10,000 records and is accessible online. Users can search for a veteran or discover a family member by using a number of filters including surname (either maiden or married), section, location or building.

The Bletchley Park Trust is hoping veterans or their descendants will add photographs and fascinating additional information about life and work at Bletchley and its outstations. The Trust is also welcoming written accounts of wartime experiences.

One veteran, Rozanne Colchester (nee Medhurst), remembers the social life of the site. “There were a great many love-affairs going on about which we did not speak in those claustrophobic days of the war.

“At Bletchley I took part in the revues. I was a dancer when young, and was part of the chorus at Bletchley!  Every week we had a day off and usually went to London.”

The launch of the Roll of Honour comes on the back of the first of a series of exciting new developments at the site, backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

An interactive exhibition about the work of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) has recently opened in the newly restored Hut 11, known as the Bombe Hut.

Nicknamed the Hell Hole by the WRNS (known as Wrens) who operated the Bombe machines, the work inside the hut helped speed up the process of breaking into the daily Enigma settings on hundreds of different networks.

The exhibition, which was funded by a £250,000 legacy left by Bletchley Park veteran Maureen Jones, features interactive elements allowing visitors of all ages to try their hand at ‘plugging up’ the back of the Bombe machine and turning the drums to the correct position. The new exhibits also help to illustrate the high level of knowledge and concentration that was required during long, hot round-the-clock shifts.

Work of the Codebreakers of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park is widely credited as having shortened the war by at least two years.

The codes and ciphers of the Axis countries were decrypted at Bletchley, most famously by the Enigma and Lorenz machines. Breaking the ciphers of the German Secret Intelligence Service allowed the Allies to confuse Hitler as to plans for the D-Day Invasion, ultimately leading to its success.

Work is currently underway on a raft of major new galleries and exhibitions at the site as part of a £8m restoration project that will open up Huts 3 and 6 to the public for the first time. 

Soon to come is an overview exhibition in Block C where visitors will be welcomed into the world of the WW2 Codebreakers as Bletchley Park is gradually restored much closer to its wartime atmosphere with the removal of parking and modern day street furniture from the core of the site.
 

Explore the new roll of honour at rollofhonour.bletchleypark.org.uk


What do you think? Leave a comment below.


a photograph of an interactive film installation featuring text and film of a woman dressed as a World War Two WRNS.
A new interactive welcomes visitors to the Bombe Hut.© Courtesy Bletchley Park Trust
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