Notes used by Alan Turing to break Nazi Enigma code found stuffed in walls as insulation
A restoration team at England’s code-breaking Mecca, Bletchley Park, made a shocking discovery in the walls and roof of a hut in disrepair — notes used by Alan Turing and his team to crack the Nazis’ “Enigma code.”
The notes were apparently shoved into holes in the walls and roof of Hut 6 in order to stop winds from whipping through them and disturbing the code breakers. Upon discovery, they were immediately re-frozen to prevent further deterioration.
“The fact that these papers were used to block draughty holes in the primitive hut walls reminds us of the rudimentary conditions under which these extraordinary people were working,” Iain Stander, chief executive of the Bletchley Park Trust said.
Among the finds are the only extant examples of “Banbury sheets,” which outline the technique Alan Turing developed to accelerate the decryption process.
“It’s quite rare for us to find new paperwork because any that survived is in either our archive, at GCHQ or the National Archive so to find actual materials that were used by the Codebreakers, shoved between beams and cracks in the woodwork is really exciting,” Victoria Worpole, Bletchley Park’s Director of Learning and Collections said in a statement.
“We’ve had a conservator work on the materials to make sure we preserve them as best we can. It’s quite interesting to think that these were actual handwritten pieces of codebreaking, workings out. There are some pieces of paperwork that we can’t identify. Nobody seems to be able to work out what they are – we’ve sent things off to GCHQ — and there are a number of items that we’ve yet to understand properly. We’re unveiling a mystery.”
The discovery was made in 2013, but was only revealed as part of a new exhibit entitled “The Restoration of Historic Bletchley Park.”
“These are the actual documents used by codebreakers, and in terms of the codebreaking process they are pivotal,” added Gillian Mason, the exhibit’s curator. “I can just see these people beavering away. There is a lot of pencil and crayon activity.”