Why Did the Allies Win World War II? Start Here....
Bletchley Park, Hertfordshire was the site of the major Allied code-breaking operations of World War II. The British and Polish scientists there broke the Nazi code, which was encrypted on the "Enigma" machine. Alan Turing led the operation, and he deserves to be remembered, as do the Poles who originally broke the code in the early 1930s.
|Alan Turing: "Machines take me by surprise with great frequency."|
Alan Mathinson Turing (1912-1954) was a giant of applied mathematics. He was an English Mathematician, Logician, Cryptanalyst and Computer Scientist. He generally is regarded as the Father of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. His "Turing Test" was a milestone in computing.
|One of three Bletchley Park Bombes|
Among the least of his accomplishments was cracking the German Enigma code by creating the "Turing-Welchman bombe," a feat many credit with the Allies being able to win World War II in any reasonable length of time. Other scientists such as Dorothy Hodgkin used his computers to win their own Nobel Prizes.
|Alan Turing: "We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done."|
Basically, Alan Turing started the computer revolution that continues to this day. In 1936, the Princeton mathematician published a paper about a theoretical machine that could solve any problem. It became the foundation for computer science. During the war, Turing created an electromechanical machine that crack the German Navy's Enigma code, helping to end the war early and saving possibly millions of lives.
|Former Bombe operator Jean Valentine shows a drum of British Turing Bombe machine|
The British Turing Bombe Machine is maintained in the Bletchley Park Museum. It was first shown to the public in 2006, revealed for the first time in sixty years. The Bombe was the brainchild of mathematical genius Turing and Gordon Welchman. It enabled Bletchley Park's cryptographers to decode over 3000 enemy messages a day. Turing was a non-conformist and ultimately committed suicide after being stripped of his security clearance for being a homosexual. It took until December 2013 for Turing finally to be pardoned for this "crime." The Queen granted a posthumous pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after a high-profile campaign supported by tens of thousands of people including Professor Stephen Hawking.
Clearly, this was one of the saddest events in all of science history. This is the kind of guy of whom they still make statues, a true (if under-recognized and appreciated) British hero.
|Alan Turing statue, artist: Stephen Kettle|
Like Robert Oppenheimer in the US "Manhattan Project," Turing was a leader who had many able subordinates who rightly earned enduring fame for their own achievements at Bletchley Park.
Thomas Harold "Tommy" Flowers was a brilliant electronics engineer who worked for the General Post Office. Early in the war, he became involved in the work at Bletchley Park and went on to design and build the Colossus computer used to break the German Lorenz teleprinter codes. Effectively, he created the first practical electronic computer. The German nickname for their British enemies was "Tommies." They didn't realize how right they were.
|Tommy Flowers’ photo from his wartime ration book.|
|Commander Alastair Denniston|
Commander Alastair Denniston was a British cryptologist who worked during WW1 in the well-known “Room 40” dealing with breaking German military ciphers. After that war, he re-organised the headquarters of the British radio intelligence service GC'&'CS. Just before WW2, Denniston led the British delegation sent to Poland to meet Polish cipher experts, who disclosed the secret of breaking Enigma. After the outbreak of WW2, Denniston and his team moved to Bletchley Park.
Who really won World War II? It wasn't some flashy fighter ace or destroyer captain. It was the gentlemen above, clad in ordinary business suits and sitting at office desks. The "Enigma" secret was not revealed until the early 1970s. Everybody agreed that breaking the code shortened the war by many months.