Bletchley Park Archives to Go Online

This is good:

Simon Greenish, chief executive officer of the Bletchley Park Trust, said the plan was for the centre’s entire archive to be digitised.


He said since the archive is so big nobody knows exactly what each individual document stored there contains.

However, the information they expect to dig out will definitely include communication transcripts, communiques, memoranda, photographs, maps and other material relating to key events that took place during the war.

He said: “We have many boxes full of index cards, which have lots of different messages on them. But this will be our chance to follow a trail and put the messages together so we can find out what they really mean.

It’ll be years before any documents actually get online, but it’s still a good thing.

Another article.

The Bletchley Park Museum really needs donations, if you’re so inclined.

Posted on June 8, 2010 at 6:30 AM18 Comments


GreenSquirrel June 8, 2010 7:06 AM

I concur with uk visa on this.

There should be some fascinating stuff coming out (Garbo is my personal favourite).

I have donated and would encourage everyone to do so.

GreenSquirrel June 8, 2010 7:10 AM

One odd part of the BBC write up

Simon Greenish, chief executive officer of the Bletchley Park Trust, said:

“the allies sent a reconnaissance aircraft and they found out that rockets – weapons of terror – were being developed there.”

Why the need to add in “weapons of terror?” It seems out of place and reaches out to the cynical parts of my brain….

Note 1 – please add in an edit function…

Note 2 – BBC writers are terrible. They really are bad. For example look how many times the item in question says “He said.” Sloppy journalism. Shame on them.

Clive Robinson June 8, 2010 8:25 AM

@ GreenSquirl,

The “weapons of terror” is the correct term from the period for the V weapons.

For those so minded not only contribute but please please visit it is an amazing place. Not just because of it,s connection with code breaking and the X and Y stations but also the history of computers and radios that is covered there.

If you are not sure where to find it the entrance (unless it’s changed again) is at the end of “Water Eaton Road” which is a unique road name in England.

Dave June 8, 2010 8:43 AM

My father-in-law and I visited Bletchley a few years ago and it was really awesome! Not only was the guided tour really well done, but we were lucky to have a gentleman who actually worked there during the war in our group!

It’s a travesty that the museum isn’t more well-known and better funded.

GreenSquirrel June 8, 2010 8:48 AM

@ Clive

I appreciate that was the term for the V weapons, but it seems very out of place in the article.

Also ISTR the entrance is on Sherwood Drive, although when I last visited I went by train and it was basically in front of you when you get off.

I will reiterate though: Vist and / or donate. It really is worth it.

BrettFromFL June 8, 2010 8:50 AM

I visited Bletchly when in England a couple years ago. Its a short train ride from London to Milton Keynes. The historical significance of this for computers and cryptanalysis cant be stressed. The have resurrected Collosus the original electronic computer. There are several Nazi enigma machines as well as Brittish cryptanalysis machines also. All of which are huge, room-sized devices. When I visited, Sir Tony Snow conducted the tour – he actually worked with the Bletchley team during WWII. He has an exceptional website as I recall. It was all fascinating beyond expectation.

Trichinosis USA June 8, 2010 9:17 AM

Alan Turing died 56 years ago yesterday. A classic “no good deed goes unpunished” questionable suicide.

He would have been 98 years old this month. Perhaps, if we were lucky – if we deserved it – still alive to comment and contribute.

I honor his memory. I do not honor the ungrateful, treacherous nithings who drove him to his death.

Electric Dragon June 8, 2010 9:20 AM

“For example look how many times the item in question says “He said.””

What would you rather have them do? “He opined”, “he declared”, “he yelled”? Risks getting into Elongated Yellow Fruit territory.

BF Skinner June 8, 2010 9:37 AM

@GreenSquirrel “…that was the term for the V weapons…”

Certainly seems more descriptive and accurate than calling machine guns or conventional explosives WMD.

Timmy303 June 8, 2010 10:17 AM

I picked up a copy of Michael Smith’s excellent Station X: Decoding Nazi Secrets a while back at the crypto museum at Ft. Meade. It’s about the life and work at Bletchley and I highly recommend it. Published by TV Books in 1998, 232 pages, 20 or so photographs.

Davi Ottenheimer June 8, 2010 12:13 PM

I practically lived in the British Archives for a summer when I wrote about the liberation of Ethiopia and occupation by Allied forces.

There is really nothing that can replace the feeling that comes from working with original source materials. It was like time stood still when I found a memo inked by Churchill himself.

Also, I found books sometimes misquoted and misrepresented official documents. Access to the original material was amazingly helpful to setting records straight.

The documents are fragile and so hard to search it is fantastic news to hear HP has agreed to digitize the Bletchley Park archives. Interesting that Google is nowhere to be seen.

I found example images from the archives in another BBC article.

BB June 8, 2010 4:36 PM


Describing the V weapons as ‘weapons of terror’ is entirely apt; they had no tactical or battlefield role, having a CEP measured in miles – their accuracy was at the level of an entire town or city.

The sole purpose of the V1 and V2 was to cow and demoralise the civilian population of the U.K. by random detonations that came with little warning, in the case of the V1, or no warning at all, in the case of the V2.

In other words, they were weapons with no other purpose than to terrorise.

Mr. Stone June 8, 2010 10:45 PM

I’ve often thought that the solution for large historical archives is just to scan them all, and make them all public immediately.

Then allow the public to tag each one.

This solves the sorting problem rather than waiting years for a curator to handle it.

Timmy303 June 9, 2010 11:10 AM

@Mr. Stone – Tagged by the public at large? I think in that case any useful signal would be quickly drowned out in the noise of sockington, goatse, aliens, and mr. hands. If there were a way of roping in a more agreeable subset of the general Internet population …

GreenSquirrel June 9, 2010 11:42 AM

@ Electric Dragon at June 8, 2010 9:20 AM

The point I was making is that the news item was badly written in that it required constant “he said.” Rather than being a journalist writing an article, it was someone running a verbatim PR speech. IMHO it would have been better for the journalist to have bothered to paraphrase the significant points for the audience or if lots of quotes were needed then attribute them in a more readable manner. As each paragraph was little more than a quote, all could have been lumped together with a single attribution. (Obviously this is just my opinion and I am certainly not a journalist, so what do I know)

@ BF Skinner at June 8, 2010 9:37 AM

Very good point. At least they did cause genuine terror…

@ BB at June 8, 2010 4:36 PM

I agree and I am not arguing with that. I was simply interested by the apparent need for the CEO to have stated “rockets, weapons of terror.”

To me it implies either an assumption that the audience might confuse rockets with something else (maybe fireworks?) or possibly a cynical idea that referencing Terror is always a good way to get interest.

Like most UK citizens, the V weapons were taught at school and I am aware of the terror they caused, and the reasons the Nazis chose to use them. I had assumed that this was actually common knowledge and, personally, would have read any reference to late WWII German Rocketry as a reference to the V weapons.

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