On Thursday 26 January, Year 10 pupils went to Bletchley Park, an estate in Milton Keynes that became central to code-breaking during the Second World War and where the Enigma code was cracked.
When they arrived, they were given a guided tour of part of the house and Hut 3, where people (mainly women as most of the men were fighting in the war) would intercept and write out German messages, which were in Morse code as well as Enigma. The girls were then allowed to look around by themselves in groups. One group went to Hut 11A, where there was a replica of the Bombe machine, created by Alan Turing, the first ever computer to be built, which was used to decode the German Enigma codes. However, something not commonly known is that three Polish codebreakers contributed greatly to the cracking of the Enigma code because they suggested using mathematics. Their work was said to speed up the breaking of Enigma by around 18 months.
A little later, Year 10 had a code-breaking workshop, where they saw a real Enigma machine used by the Germans - it was insured for £400,000. They were shown how the machine worked and then had a go at trying to listen and decipher Morse code. It was a lot harder than they thought it would be and they were amazed when a soundtrack of Morse code, that people who worked at Bletchley Park had to write down, was played. It was incredibly fast and seemed almost impossible to write down. And, unlike the shorter and slower codes that they had a go at, the women would not have been able to listen more than once as it could not be recorded. This is why there were often gaps with groups of five dots in the sentences which they would have to guess after decoding the Enigma through the Bombe machine.
The Year Group were given booklets with different ciphers and went around the room solving each one to find the name of a spy. Finally, at the end of the workshop, the girls were allowed to put their initials into the Enigma machine which was very exciting. Overall it was a very fun and interesting trip which helped the Year Group understand more about what happened during World War II.