Details about WWII intelligence factory where Kate Middleton’s grandmother worked

Kate Middleton’s Grandmother

It was during the Second World War that an intelligence factory known by the name of Bletchley Park first opened and it was there, that some of the best-kept secrets of the war happened. A certain somebody who has a close tie to Bletchley Park is Kate Middleton. There were many highly secretive things that happened there and even Kate has spoken out about how her own grandmother wouldn’t share with her own granddaughter about what happened there, “she was so sworn to secrecy that she never felt able to tell us.” Speaking out at a recent event, Kate said to those employees who are still alive, “You were so very important.” Attending the event in the Milton Keynes area of England, Kate wore a £1,750 Alessandra Rich dress for the day. So what really happened at Bletchley Park?

Kate Middleton’s Grandmother

Recently, Kate Middleton visited an exhibition at Bletchley Park where her grandmother was employed during the second world war. Marking the 75th anniversary of the important day in England, known as D-Day, Kate paid her respects to her “grandma” Valerie Glassborow.

Kate Middleton’s Grandmother

So what really happened at Bletchley Park? Even today, there are some things that happened behind those doors that still remains a secret.

Mansion And Estate

Built in the nineteenth-century, Bletchley Park is a mansion and estate in Buckinghamshire, England. In 1939, during World War II, it became the home of British codebreakers, however at that time, what was happening inside of the mansion was top secret.

Mansion And Estate

So much so, that the staff had little idea about what kind of work they were doing. Many people may already be familiar with Bletchley Park due to the famous code-breaker, Alan Turing, who in 2018, would have been 100 years old.

 

Behind Closed Doors

Turing made a ground-breaking discovery when he cracked the Nazi Enigma code and produced Ultra Intelligence. His contribution was highly important, as were other peoples, however, some of them have never been discussed publicly.

Behind Closed Doors

Turing was a part of an elite team of codebreakers who was in turn surrounded by many other people in this complex and huge organization. At the time, the reason Bletchley Park had been opened was kept a secret, and the only thing people knew was that people were there.

Many Different Roles

Every morning thousands of people arrived there, ready for work. Opening in 1939, it was in 1944 that the mansion was bursting with workers with around 10,000 people employed at Bletchley Park.

Many Different Roles

The roles varied and covered a wide range of tasks, with three-quarters of the staff being women and it has been said, that without these codebreakers working tirelessly, the war could have gone on for two to three years more.

Understanding The Enemy

The codebreakers were key factors in winning the war, their job was to read the operational and strategic signals of the enemy, and to do so unnoticed. Turing’s success would have never been achieved if it wasn’t for everyone else doing their job too.

Understanding The Enemy

These people were studying, understanding and explaining the most complex information about the war. The Buckinghamshire estate was where the Government Code and Cipher School was based during wartime, today it is known as GCHQ.

 

Only A Small Crowd

At the time of the First World War, the codebreaking home was the Admiralty and the War Office. Once that war was over, officials decided to move the division to Bletchley Park – it would become a part of the MI6. It wasn’t long until the Government Code and Cipher School were now known as an important part of the Secret Intelligence Service, known to most as the SIS or MI6.

Only A Small Crowd

When the Second World War began, there were only 200 people working in the new offices at Bletchley Park and it was a small section of those people that were chosen to work on project Enigma.

German Invention

At the end of World War I, a German engineer named Arthur Scherbius invented the Enigma machine, which was a cipher machine that was used by the German army and navy. Enigma was used by many different groups within these forces and it was utmost important that the codes on these machines were cracked so intelligence could be gathered.

German Invention

From 1940, the staff at Bletchley Park had successfully begun to decode the Enigma, and that in itself was ground-breaking. An officer said, “Bletchley Park became home to an enormous centralized ‘signals intelligence’ operation, which grew so rapidly that it soon expanded from the original mansion house to a complex of wooden huts and concrete blocks.”

Many Things Had To Be Done

With the stories that have been passed through history, it is easy to believe the breaking of Enigma was a single event and yet, there were many moments that led up to that crucial breakthrough.

Many Things Had To Be Done

The difficulty with the cipher machine was that it changed its configuration on a daily basis, making it insanely difficult for people to crack. They had to slowly learn what each individual code meant.

More Machines

The Enigma wasn’t the only machine the staff was tasked with decoding, alongside it was the Fish ciphers as well as several Italian and Japanese ciphers in which they had to crack.

More Machines

Those at Bletchley Park were not completely blind when they began to work on the codes, they had the help of Polish codebreakers with information from before the war. So, who else helped Turing’s triumph?

Different Stages Of Breaking In

This information was vital to the decoding and it helped a lady called Dilly Knox who in 1937, had cracked into an Italian Enigma cipher. There were many stages of breaking into the machine, it wasn’t by any means easy.

Different Stages Of Breaking In

Firstly, they tore apart the ‘user group’ section of the machine which enabled them to read messages but would any of them know what the messages said?

 

Codes, Codes and more Codes

The men and women over in the mansion had the responsibility of analyzing each code, albeit there were thousands. To enable them to do this, they had to create an intensive data management plan.

Codes, Codes and more Codes

It would include the relentless task of cross-reference indexes that were stacked inside hundred’s 0f shoe boxes. Were they decrypting the right codes?

Finding A Way To Analyse

Gordon Welchman, a Cambridge mathematician, was an important part of making the process smoother and it was him, that devised the system of how to process the thousands of messages that passed through the machine every day.

Finding A Way To Analyse

Welchman took the messages from interception all the way through to analysis.

Growing The Task Force

Those at Bletchley Park came up against a lot of political issues that made their job much harder than it needed to be, once it was resolved, the mansion became the most centralized ‘signals intelligence’ operation.

Growing The Task Force

From then, the operation saw mass growth and with more recruits joining the force, they needed to build more space outside of the mansion.

Top Secret

There is the middle of Buckinghamshire, was now an intelligence hub, where everyone who worked there had to work under complete secrecy. One officer reported, “Many had no idea what they were working on – they merely knew that they had to complete their one little part of the process.”

Top Secret

Under oath, the employees were told they were never allowed to discuss what they were working on, not even to each other and sadly, some people never got to speak out at all.

They Couldn’t Tell Anyone

Astonishingly, the secrecy of what happened at Bletchley Park was maintained up until 1974! It was because of this that many of those people who contributed to such a huge part of history will never know much about it.

They Couldn’t Tell Anyone

In fact, they will never truly know how much of an impact they had made since they passed away before that date. The secrecy even came between families.

What Were They Doing?

There have also been stories told of family members who worked at Bletchley Park but with the secrecy installed in them, neither person knew until after 1974 when they could speak publicly about it. What were they exactly doing on the grounds of this British estate?

What Were They Doing?

It was so much more than just one role, in fact, there were so many things happening there that they weren’t all documented.

Number Of Roles

The codebreaking involved various machines that were operated by the staff, as well as the electromechanical devices that were operated by the navy’s ladies’ divisions, the WRENs.

Number Of Roles

The establishment had both military and civilian employees covering all roles including indexing clerks and gathering all of the decrypted messages.