1939 BLETCHLEY PARK
“Dear Prime Minister,
Some weeks ago you paid us the honour of a visit, and we believe that you regard our work as important. You will have seen that (…) we have been well supplied with the ’bombes’ for the breaking of the German Enigma codes. We think, however, that you ought to know that this work is being held up, and in some cases is not being done at all, princiipally because we cannot get sufficient staff to deal with it.” Alan Turing. Gordon Welchman, Hugh Alexander, Peter Stuart Milner-Barry.
Letter to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, October 21st, 1941
During the Second World War, Turing is at the service of British intelligence in the secret headquarters of Bletchely Park, the main cryptanalysis center in the UK. His contribution is crucial to decipher the codes used in the German communications, encoded by the so-called system Enigma.
The real sound of Bombe, electromechanical Polish machine, implemented by Turing and essential for the decoding of Enigma, is the basis of the musical composition. The sound of a Lancaster bomber, electronically recreated with the Synthi, and the urgencies of the race against time described in the text of a letter to Winston Churchill are the basis of this scene, visually represented by a chess game played on the scenario of war through real messages and data submitted by U-boats.
- Letter sent to Winston Churchill october 21st, 1941, from Turing and his Bletchley Park partners. Kept at Kew Public Record Office, Richmond, Surrey – HW 1/155
- Winston Churchill draft ottobre 22nd, 1941. Kept at Kew Public Record Office, Richmond – HW 1/155
- The decoded messages and routes come from the U-boat 79, 96, 264 and the Bismarck battleship.
- The chess moves are from the game played in Berlin in 1852 by Adolf Anderssen and his student Jean Dufresne.
MICHELE TADINI. ENIGMA/BOMBE
MICHAEL SMITH. TURING E LA GUERRA DEGLI U-BOOT
JOHN HARPER: THE BOMBE REBUILD PROJECT
JOHN JACKSON E JON CAPE. DECODING ENIGMA
MIA BASS. THE WRNS AND THE BOMBE
RUTH BOURNE. TURING AND BLETCHLEY PARK
EILEEN YOUNGHUSBAND. WAAF OFFICER
LA LETTERA INDIRIZZATA A WINSTON CHURCHILL
Secret and Confidential
Prime Minister only
Hut 6 and Hut 8,
21st October 1941
Dear Prime Minister,
Some weeks ago you paid us the honour of a visit, and we believe that you regard our work as important. You will have seen that … we have been well supplied with the ’bombes’ for the breaking of the German Enigma codes. We think, however, that you ought to know that this work is being held up, and in some cases is not being done at all, princiipally because we cannot get sufficient staff to deal with it. Our reason for writing to you direct is that for months we have done everything that we possibly can through the normal channels, and that we despair of any early improvement without your intervention. We realized that there is a tremendous demand for labour of all kinds and that its allocation is a matter of priorities. The trouble to our mind is that as we are a very small section with numerically trivial requirements it is very difficult to bring home to the authorities finally responsible either the importance of what is done here or the urgent necessity of dealing promptly with our requests. At the same time we find it hard to believe that it is really impossible to produce quickly the additional staff we need, even if this meant interfering with the normal machinery of allocations.
(…) the following are the bottlenecks which are causing us the most acute anxiety.
1 – Breaking of Naval Enigma (Hut 8)
Owing to shortage of staff and the overworking of his present team (…) has had to stop working night shifts. The effect of this is that the finding of the naval keys is being delayed at least twelve hours every day. (…) needs immediately about twenty more untrained Grade III women clerks. (…) A further serious danger now threatening us is that some of the skilled male staff, (…) who have so far been exempt from military service, are now liable to be called up.
2 – Military and Air Foce enigma (Hut 6)
We are intercepting quite a substantial proportion of wireless traffic in the Middle East wich cannot be picked up by our intercepting stations here. (…) all the we need to put matters right is about twenty trained typists.
3 – Bombe testing, Hut 6 and Hut 8
In July we were promised that the etsting of the ‘stories’ produced by bombes would be taken over by the WRNS in the bombe hut and that sufficient WRNS would be provided for this purpose. It is now late in October and nothing has been done. (…)
We have felt that we should be failing in our duty if we did not draw your attention to the facts and the effects which they are having and must continue to have on our work, unless immediate action is taken.
We are, Sir, Your obedient servants,
Peter Stuart Milner-Barry
Bletchley Park, home of the codebreakers
Michael Smith Writer
THE TURING BOMBE REBUILD PROJECT, JOHN HARPER
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