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Joel Greenberg

Joel Greenberg, author of Gordon Welchman: Bletchley Park’s Architect of Ultra Intelligence.

In July 1974 I had just submitted my PhD thesis and was preparing to be examined on it when I read an interesting article in the Sunday Telegraph. It was a long extract from a book due to be published in November, called The Ultra Secret. The book told the previously unknown story of Bletchley Park (BP) and the codebreaking activities which took place there during the Second World War. My research had been carried out at the University of Manchester and was in the new field of Numerical Mathematics. Therefore, I was well aware of the contributions of both Max Newman and Alan Turing to the developments in computing which had taken place in Manchester in the 1950s. I of course knew nothing of their work at Bletchley Park and was keen to find out how it had influenced their post-war work at the University. Unfortunately, The Ultra Secret contained no technical detail and subsequent books on the subject were equally devoid of detail.

In late 1982, I came across a book which at last contained a detailed description of some of the work at BP. While I was impressed by the detail provided in The Hut Six Story, I was somewhat curious about its author, Gordon Welchman. While his name had appeared in other books about BP, there was nothing in them which led me to believe he was a particularly significant figure. Yet here was Welchman describing how he had personally led the attack on the German Air Force and Army’s encrypted communication throughout World War Two.

After reading Welchman’s book I became intrigued by BP and when I joined the Open University in 1977, I was delighted to discover that it was only a few miles away. I subsequently took every opportunity to snoop around the place, read books about it and take my children there when it opened to the public in the 1990s. After leaving the Open University in 2010, I joined BP as a volunteer supporter and quickly realised that Welchman’s contribution had been fundamental to BP’s spectacular success during the Second World War. After getting the support of his family, I decided the time had come to tell his story and that of others who had worked closely with him and were unknown to the general public.

Other books on Bletchley Park:

Secret Days
Secret Days
by ASA Briggs
Seizing the Enigma
Seizing the Enigma
by David Kahn
Cracking the Luftwaffe Codes
Cracking the Luftwaffe Codes
by Gwen Watkins
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