Mark is the producer of the official Bletchley Park podcast. He joins us today to discuss the historical accuracy of the 2014 film The Imitation Game and do some fact checking on the original Based on a True Story episode from back in 2016.
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Dan LeFebvre: We’ll get into some of the specifics of the movie and how it compares to history, but before we do that, just overall, what did you think about the imitation game
Mark Cotton: [00:03:10] At the time, we kind of all said the same thing because there were obviously a lot of complaints from people. Bletchley is this kind of place that it does tend to really make people passionate about it.
So they would say, well, that bits not right, that bits not right, and that’s not right. And we always said the same thing, which was, it’s not a documentary. What it is is a really good wartime thriller. And if you put aside what you know, the actual historical facts, then just focus on that. Then it’s brilliant because what it did was bring so many people to Bletchley Park and it made it world famous for us.
It was a win-win because you get the people to come to Bletchley and we tell them the real story. But it’s getting that hook first, and that’s what that film did. You know, you couldn’t, you couldn’t pay for that kind of publicity. Bletchley Park is a charity. It’s funded by donations. It has no funding from government, you know, so the life and soul of the place is people arriving.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:04:15] That makes perfect sense that that would lead a lot of people into people that never heard of Bletchley Park before.
Mark Cotton: [00:04:24] So we’ve recently got a new research officer called Tom. So when we do our history episodes, a historian normally does them.
And now Tom started, we’ve got enhance to do so. And I sort of sat him down at the start and I said, you know, cause he’s mid twenties he’s basically, you know, he’s just got his doctorate. And I was trying to explain to him that what you’ve got to remember is that people would come and listen to our show for a start.
They could be anyone from someone who’s absolutely fascinated by world war two you know, or someone who’s just interested in code breaking all the way through to someone who’s just watched the imitation game. And love spending it come about. So they’ve come to, I’ve listened to the podcast and you’ve got to cater for everyone.
And that’s how we do our storytelling in the museum. And you know, in the podcast, it’s to cater to everyone at all levels.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:05:15] That make sense? And your mention of Benedict Cumberbatch. I want to jump into some of the details. So the first that we see Benedict Cumberbatch version of Alan Turing arrive at Bletchley Park, it’s near the end of 1939 war with Germany has just been declared, and at this point, at least according to the movie, touring is 27 years old and it doesn’t really seem to be too thrilled with working for the government.
But he enjoys solving puzzles and the German enigma is the greatest encryption device ever. The ultimate puzzle for him. Now, according to the movie touring joins five others as they begin the task of cracking the enigma code. Can you explain how touring made his way to Bletchley Park and how did the movie depict his arrival?
Did they do a pretty good job of depicting his arrival to Bletchley as part of a team tasked with breaking the code.
Mark Cotton: [00:06:09] Let me read you one thing. So this is from a wartime document or, or pre-board document. So this is a list of pre-war training courses, so people who were marked out as possible Codebreakers.
So. Between the 3rd of January and the 6th of January, 1939 there was a course, and it’s just an introduction course to code breaking, you know, code breaking one Oh one sort of thing. And on that course you’ve got the following people. Charlseworth Charlotte driver Higham lost Lucas Roberts, suring Wilkinson.
You know, just one of the names in there. Yeah, so in January, 1939 Allen had already been marked out as being a potential Codebreaker and had already sat the course as an introduction for code breaking. Now, what he did between January 39 and September 39 is he went back to Cambridge, but he carried on actually working on the enigma.
Problem is they were calling it then, and he was doing this for the chief Codebreaker at Bletchley at the time was a chap called Dilley Knox, who’d actually been a world war one Codebreaker. So he’d been involved with, you’ll have heard of the Zimmerman telegram that basically brought the U S into the first world war.
So Dillon ops had been one of the people who’d helps break that. He was working for Dilley Knox in Cambridge for nothing, for. The next eight months before the war started. So the film sort of saying that he was reluctant to go, or you know, he was just going because it was a bit of a puzzle is not really true.
If you go back to world war one, code breaking in those days, your classic Codebreaker is either someone who studied the classics, so like Greek or Egyptian or something, or Ryman. And they’re used to dealing with ancient corals and texts and things, or linguists just for the language basically. And they were the best people for coat breaking.
Cause in those days it was. It was nine substitutions, or it was code books where you know, a number would just signify a certain word. Once you get to a nigga, come on to Dennis Dunn, who was the head of GC and CS dentist, and really early on realized, right, we need mathematicians for this. Really, because this is a machine and how do you break a machine?
You break a machine through mathematics. So he’d been looking for what they called . The professor types for quite a while, and they had people at Oxford and Cambridge and the other leading universities who basically professors there who were looking for their brightest peoples and they were tipping the winks and dentist in, and then they’d either be invited down to London for a little chat and a meal and said, would you like to work for the government?
Oh, right. I mean, one of the other coolers read out that cost you. There was no, there was four courses in the first three months. Of 39 now the third one, which was in March, there were another 11 people on there. One of the names on there is Tolkien as in Lord of the rings. Now, just because people sat at these courses didn’t mean they actually went to
Actually, some of them actually turned them down. Some said, Oh, right, yeah, no, I think I’d rather stay doing what I’m doing. And Tolkien was one of those talking, decided to stay on at university, or I think he was an oxidant song and write Lord of the rings. Other people said, Oh, I’ve only got a year left on my degree.
Can I finish my degree first or my paper I’m working on? so out of that, there was something like 94 people who actually sat these courses and were pre war. I’m known as the secondary list. I think so between world war one and second world war, GCCS had a certain amount of staff, but obviously they’re not at war.
You know, they don’t have huge staff. They couldn’t actually take these people on until war was declared and actually pay them. So they were all basically just waiting for the war to start, and then they’d all start turning up and that’s how they turned up. So we don’t actually have a date. The Allen turned a bit at Bletchley.
We know he turned up in September, 1939 we think it was about the second week, but you know, that was just a case of they started dropping in in dribs and drabs. But by October of that year, or even by, you know, before the end of September, out of the 94 who’d sat the courses, something in the high forties we’re actually going to come to Bletchley.
Either they’d been accepted or you know, the ones that hadn’t turned Bletchley down. So by the time we get to the end of September, early October, 1939 there’s 150 odd staff of Bletchley Park.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:11:19] Once touring is at Bletchley, at least as far as the movie is concerned, we start to learn a little bit more about the code, the enigma code of these trying to break.
Now at the heart of it as the way the movie explains it, and then I’ll have you explain the way it really was is there was an encryption machine and then the Germans changed the settings on the machine every night at midnight. So according to the movie, that means you have to break the code a sift through hundreds of millions of possible combinations and do it in a single day before the settings change.
And all those combinations change and you lose everything that you were working on. Can you give us a little more information on the challenge that the Codebreakers were up against and how German enigma code worked?
Mark Cotton: [00:12:00] What a lot of people don’t know is that the enigma machine was originally invented as a commercial device in the 1920s, and it was designed to be used by banks so they could have secure, it’s like, you know, online banking in a way, you know, the earliest version.
Now, J CNCS actually bought two copies of that machine. In the 1920s. So the whole myth about us never having an enigma machine was kind of blown out the water that we, we’d had one for like 20 years before the war started, bizarrely. But, that was Shane change so much. At some point, the German authorities decide, you know what?
I think we could use this machine, in which case we’re going to stop selling it commercially. And that’s when they started making changes. So if we jump forward to world war two, by the time you get to world war two he’s got a machine that’s basically the same machine that it’s been for 20 years. But in the same breath, it’s radically different with the early three rights machine, what you get is there aren’t just three roads.
It’s actually five rotors and they’re all numbered. So every day at midnight, you are a nigga operator. She’s big sheets out. And on that sheet, it tells him a bunch of things, how to set up his and Shane. So the first thing it says is right out of the five routers, use these three types, those three in that tells him which audience to put them in the machine.
So he puts those in. No, on the side of the road, sir, there’s a little clip and that can be in one of 26 positions, and that’s another level of security. And that tells him which position to put the clip in. And I each of these three rotors. So he does that. And what are the biggest challenges that brought him was on the front of the board, I have something called a plug board, and this basically paired up letters, so it didn’t matter if you press the ne, it wasn’t actually going to Sinai anyway because it would say, right, we’ll put this plug in.
So every AA becomes an a for a star, so that’s another level of encryption. So they could have a to say it doesn’t have those plugs pairing up. Then he closes all the machine up and it tells him. What to set those three roads is that to start with. So all of those things are done before he starts to send a message.
And that basically meant that there were 157 million million million combinations. Now, on top of that, it wasn’t a case of every midnight you’ve got this one enigma code to break. You know, everyone thinks it’s the enigma code. There weren’t, so by peak of of the war, there were 60 different types of nickname sprites.
So what? Bletchley knew them as were keys, but we’d probably know them as networks. Now, if you were to say that there are different networks, so each part of the German state had its own series of networks or keys. So the army, the air force, the foreign ministry, the Abbott there, the police, they just stop her, every part of it.
And there was 60 of these. So bill actually, his biggest problem in reality really is which of those 60 keys do we try and break? Because there was no way, I mean, his height, she had nearly 10,000 people working between Bletchley and its outstations or the listening stations and the bomb stations. Even with that many people that we’ve never enough enough staff to be able to break every key.
So that’s when real sort of that ground intelligence comes in because you have to decide. Right, okay. We can maybe break 20 or 25 of these each day, which are the most important once you are 25 to us at the moment, that was probably the biggest problem they had.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:16:00] So they would change depending on the day, which ones you would try to break.
Mark Cotton: [00:16:03] Yeah.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:16:04] Wow. It’s even more complex.
Mark Cotton: [00:16:07] Yeah. It’s, I mean, you have to think about those decisions that are being made as well. Someone is having to make a decision that, for example, I mean, they would always try and break theU boat keys, always say, but you know, that’s not just one key. You know, each flotilla.
So there would be a flutter out of Norway. There’d be a flotilla out of Denmark that’d be different flotillas out of France. Each of those had its own key. So you’re going to be breaking those because you know, up to like 43 that was probably the most dangerous thing for Britain was the battle of the Atlantic.
All right. And that’s shown in the film. You know, they do concentrate on the, the war in the Atlantic, which was, you know, at one point before they broke back into enigma, the former rotor enigma machine, we went down to something like six weeks food in this country. And that was it. We had six weeks and we were basically going to be out of the war.
Does that then mean that if you break all those keys, you don’t break? I don’t know, a key somewhere in Italy that might tell you that the certain German is going to be moving, you know, there’s decisions I had to make were life and death every day
Dan LeFebvre: [00:17:19] and were are those decisions made in Bletchley or was Bletchley essentially told, these are the ones that you’re going to focus on today?
They were given that command from, from somewhere else.
Mark Cotton: [00:17:30] It changes over. The war, I think has a really interesting early war incident. So when the Germans invited Norway in April 40 the Naval section at Bletchley informed, the atmo would say that there’s a squadron of German warships heading out and the heading towards a British aircraft carrier.
On the Atmos. He basically said, yeah, of course they are. The aircraft carrier was then sunk with bikes. The all hands, the Atmos, he kind of decided that anytime this chap called Harry Hinsley, he was only a young man, gave him information like this in the future. They were going to listen to him.
Yeah. And Harry Hensley went on to be one of the leading Codebreakers at Bletchley, and you know, and that was one of his first interactions with the AB Moxie. And so it always depended on what you find in that world of Codebreakers. They know the people that they pass their product on to those as their customers and it, a lot of it depends on whether your customer believes it or not.
So all the way through the war, there were certain allied commanders who absolutely relied on enigma. All that ultra is the intelligence was code. All the way through the wall, some too much. In fact, you know that just altruism always going to tell you everything. You know, the battle of the bulge is a prime example.
So they could rely on it, which might be not the greatest thing, but you’d also had commanders who just didn’t want to believe it. It’s all so parts of it depends on that. There would be obvious things like, you know, so while we’re fortunate in North Africa, obviously you’re going to try and concentrate on the keys that are going to relate directly to where your armed forces are.
So especially, you know, till I suppose you could say like 43 with the invasion of Italy that basically looking at, I would have thought mainly Naval enigma and. Anything relating to North Africa, but in just saying that it’s not just, Oh, we’ll break the enigma keys that Rommel’s using in the Africa Corps.
What you’re also going to break is the Italian coast because the Italian Navy’s, the people, other people delivering the stores, and you want to break the law for keys for the German air force initially, because they’re the ones who are guarding the convoys as they go over. Oh. And actually we actually need to break the German Navy U boat flotillas in the Mediterranean as well, because there’ll be on patrol at the same time.
So if we send out our ships to try and sync the tally. Oh yeah. It just becomes so complicated. I, I don’t know how, I mean, they must have had so many sleepless noise. And I know I’ve spoken to veterans who, who will kind of say that I used to wonder when they were doing their jobs, you know, have I just saved someone or have I just killed someone or if I let someone get killed?
I think he’s really young people as well, especially the female staff. You’re looking at someone who was 25 was probably class classes. An old lady. Because they were anything from 17 and a half foot woods, and a lot of the chaps were, were very young. Sure. Him was actually quite old, you know, 27 touring was quite an old chap.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:21:05] Yeah. I can’t even imagine making those types of decisions and having to make them every single day. Just knowing that it is, I mean, it is life or death, no matter what somebody is going to pay for the decisions that you’re making on what you’re going to
Mark Cotton: [00:21:19] break. Yeah.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:21:21] Now, I know you alluded to this earlier, so maybe you already answered it, but in the movie, we see how they recruit at Bletchley Park and we see it as they’re recruiting by putting a crossword puzzle in the newspaper.
The idea here according to movie is if somebody can solve the puzzles and they all will know how to contact Bletchley Park staff and they’ll also have proven themselves a good candidate. It was there any reality to that?
Mark Cotton: [00:21:47] Yes, there’s, there’s like Tony, a bit of reality. I’ve had our historian look into this for you now.
All we’ve been able to track down is one instance where this was done. And it was in 1942 and six people were recruited from it, and that’s the only instance we can find a vet. Now, as I said before, you know, you’re looking at 9,000 staff recruited during the, you know, the height. So six people out of 9,000 isn’t a lot.
I think the way this is, is this has grown, is I’ve interviewed probably, I don’t know, or recorded something like 60 or 70 veterans over the years, and quite often what will come up is. I will say something like, during their interview they were asked, do you like doing crossword puzzles? Oh, well, yeah, that’s a, or do you play chess?
Something like that. And I think it’s grown out of that more than anything, I think because. In asking that question, there are, they’re trying to get an impression of the way the person’s mind works. Not, you know, sit down and do this crossword. Oh, if you do it, you’re coming to Bletchley Park as the Codebreaker.
Because in fact, most of the people who’ve told me that were not what you would call a Codebreaker, they were working bombing machines. They were working telly prints and machines. We still call them Codebreakers because as far as we’re concerned, everyone who served there. It doesn’t matter if you were Alan Turing at one end or the 14 year old Tigo who lived locally and used to push a trolley round with a big Tia and on it, every single person had their job to do and each person had to do their job before the next one could do it.
There was, it was basically a machine, a code breaking machine, and each person with this little cog in that machine. So, you know, I think, Oh, I think that’s where this has come from. But I said, we, we, we can find evidence of one example of it. And that’s it.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:23:51] And only six people out of
Mark Cotton: [00:23:53] thousands recruited pretty
Dan LeFebvre: [00:23:57] well in the movie, though.
One of the people that gets recruited in this way, I would guess she’s not one of the six, but I want to talk about Joan Clark because she was one of the characters in the movie there that it was interesting when you, when you see the movie. I almost got the implication that she was, as a woman working as a Codebreaker.
She was, she was seen differently and that, you know, it wasn’t common to have a woman working as a Codebreaker. Can you explain who she was and was she the only woman working as a Codebreaker?
Mark Cotton: [00:24:27] No, not, not. Not at all. I said earlier about these, these 94 people who were looked at being recruited pre-war. So out of that 94 figuring out exactly what to think it was 72 were men and the rest were women.
Joan was a Codebreaker. She was a proper Cobra as Alan was, which was quite rare, but she wasn’t the only one. So I mentioned deli Knox earlier, so Dilley Knox as the chief Codebreaker basically had a bit of. Leeway what he could do. And he basically, in his section, only had women working with them and they were called delis girls.
He’s asked to shade was the women were better Codebreakers than the men. He felt the man, I think when too competitive with each other, which could be to the detriment of the actual task. Deli was also a, a bit of an amateur poets as well. So he wrote a long poem about his girls. One was called Margaret rock, and there was another called lever.
So he writes this long poem about how there’s a rock can only be moved by lever. And those women were early on were brilliant. I mean, Mavis Beatty, he worked for him. She later in the war, breaks a message from the Italian codes. So the Italians were also using the magma. Germans have given them. and she breaks this message that basically tells her where the Italian fleet’s going to be in two days time.
And that turns into the battle of Cape matter’s pan. And basically the Italian Navy after that never came out of port again. And we basically nearly destroyed the Italian Navy as a fighting force. And that was down to a woman, you know, Joan, actually after the war. She leaves Bletchley Park at the end of the war, but she actually goes back to GCHQ, which is G CNCS is replacement twice more.
She works for him for a number of years after the war, a retires, and then they call her out of retirement to go back at some point. I’m not sure exactly when. It’s either the sixties or seventies I’m not entirely sure. But yeah, Joan was really good at what she did.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:26:48] Yeah, it sounds like it. I mean, and then to go back after the war, they called on her, I’m assuming, or at least accepted her to help continue
Mark Cotton: [00:26:56] thy cool on her.
They wanted her back. Yeah. They kept a certain number of staff on after the war, you know, nothing, not the numbers. Obviously they’d had joined the board. Around, I think it’s 90 48 they realize with the cold war hotting up that they’re going to need a lot more staff again and in quite a, I suppose, quaint British way because I hadn’t really kept a lot of records of who’d worked there.
they sat down and tried to work. Remember who’d worked there when the museum was started in the 90s. The first trustees were given this list. and that list is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination because you would have something like, I don’t know if it is with Joan, but you might have someone say, Oh, John Clark works in her title.
Oh, yes. Put her down. And someone else go. I wasn’t there. And mrs Marie, there’s a mrs Marie coming to mind. Why? Why put her down as well? That’s two people that are the same person. Joan Mary’s later and becomes Joan Marie. Yup. There were doubles in there. That’s how they started really recruiting for the cold war.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:28:07] It’s trying to remember the names
Mark Cotton: [00:28:09] at the end. It’s literally six sides of false gap paper I’ve seen in a copy of it. Well, the whole museum was based on that. Yeah. But worse than that, postwar recruitment was by, Oh, where are they?
Dan LeFebvre: [00:28:23] It actually leads right into my next question because in the movie, it’s an, obviously during the war, Bletchley Park is top secret.
We see an example of this. When Joan Park in the movies, she’s told to lie to everyone she knows about where she’s working and what she’s really doing. The penalty for talking about Bletchley Park is high treason, which is an executable offense, but then of course. Today we know about Bletchley Park. So can you speak about some of the ways that they were able to keep Bletchley Park a secret during world war II, and then at what point did the existence of what went on during the war become known to the public?
Mark Cotton: [00:28:59] There’s probably as many stories as there are people that, the main thing that you hear, every veteran side that I’ve interviewed, we will ask them a question, you know, what did you tell people. What did you tell your family? You know, did you find it difficult and the vast majority, there was a, there was a phrase during the war, hush, hush.
You know, someone asks you something up. Oh, it’s very hush, hush, can’t talk about it. And I kind of put a full stop to sanctions. People would just go, Oh right, okay. I’m not allowed to know about that. Which, you know, in this day and age, you know of Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, we can’t imagine people not sharing things.
It didn’t even cross their minds. So so many of our veterans, they had one regret that they always say is when the story came out, it was too late for my mum and dad’s find out what I’d done. You know that they, that’s what they’re sad about, that their parents didn’t find out what they did. I’m not sure we can perfectly illustrate this with a clip from a lady called Elizabeth Marshall who works in the Japanese Naval section.
My parents who died in 19 1771 never knew what I did here. Everybody knew about Bletchley Park. Oh, it’s some foreign office place. You were allowed to tell your parents that? Because I made, you know, it was a common name that people knew about it. Ooh. She said Oh yes, I understand. how did you feel about later on when it all started to come out?
I mean, it wasn’t very long after your passed. I was horrified. Absolutely horrified. I didn’t mind telling you. My great friend rang me up and said, they’re talking about pitch sheets all over the papers. I see. We were told never to talk about it. I still find it extremely hard to take in that everything that was locked in my head for so long is now common knowledge.
It never occurred to us that anything would be released later on. You never felt then any sense of disappointment that. You hadn’t been able to tell your parents how important the job you did during what was, because some people felt, I think, I think they, and I accepted that that was what had been laid down and they didn’t ask, I suppose.
Yes, possibly. I was sorry that they’d both died before I could tell them when after they died, of course, everything came out. I remember my friend saying the same, both her parents died before. They knew what their daughter had done in the war, but never the slightest temptation by the sounds of it on your part to tell them no, because it was absolutely mind you possibly.
Thinking back, we joined the Navy, we joined the Rindge and we rounded service discipline and it would never occur to us to flood debt. What is your abiding memory of this place and how does it feel to come back? I had the time of my life here. I enjoyed myself very, very much blitz. She was like its own town.
There was an incredible amount of social life going on here. There was a thriving theater whose director was a captain in the army called captain Malcolm Houlgate, and he was always known as a Milky. Cow and gate elevate. One of my great friends was lucky enough to get accepted as an audition for a play they did.
They’re called, yes, my darling daughter and the leading lady in that was a Belgian ATS Sergeant called John , whose father subsequently after the war I discovered was quite a famous film producer. There were all sorts of weird people here. Interesting. Weird people too. The loyalist Agnes Wilson. He was here with his partner to Bridgewater, and he was a nuts,
but no, it was great fun. It really was. I made a lot of good friends. Yeah. You also got to think if you’re a 1718 year old girl, and I said, I used girl because this is what the ladies called themselves still. Now when they’re together, they call themselves girls. I think cause they think back to how they were in that, that DNA.
So that’s why I use the word girl. If you’re 1718 year old girl, your father has probably served in world war one and military secrecy is something that’s been instilled in him. So when your daughter comes home and, Oh, how did that interview go? What’s it for? Oh, I can’t talk about it, father, it’s hush hush.
Didn’t even think about it for them personally. That was the easy bit. I think it was more people outside the families that it became difficult because, especially for the men, so any civilian men they’d be looked down upon because they weren’t in uniform and the white people who left Bletchley Park just because of those pressures.
There were men who left and joined the actual armed services to go and fight because they felt they weren’t doing that right there. That bit, but there was so many different tiles when they first moved to Bletchley in August, 1939 basically Bletchley Park was, it was bought in 1938 it had been a family estate and it was bought.
And G CNCS came and, what we now call mic six, which at the time was the secret intelligence service is I play James Bond works. They wanted what they called a war station. So in all the way through the 30s, it was, there was a phrase that the Obama will always get through. So they thought London would be flattened by bombs.
So they’re looking for somewhere outside of London. And black actually was paid. A lot of people say it was because at the time there was a right way line that went from Oxford to Cambridge, and Bletchley station was literally in the middle of the day. It’s possibly one reason. There’s probably a better reason, which is the , which at the time was one of the major roads from London across the country, runs about two miles away from Bletchley Park and the side of the where all the major trunk telephone cables for the country.
Which meant they could just take a spur off those lines and run it a few miles down the road to Bletchley. And they had telling me communications for Bletchley, which was probably one of the most important things because they used machines called tele printers, which are basically kind of like an electronic typewriter.
And these teleprinters. If you see like, you know, in old films you see like ticker tape being printed out. It’s that kind of thing. So the vast majority of Lexi’s communications was done using teleprinters. That’s probably was a bigger box tit. The fact that they knew they could have immediate communication around the country, the original cover story was that they were part of the air defense of London.
So they were just some civil service department that was outside of London and organizing the air defense of London. There were other kinds of stories that, I mean, I think in the film there’s mention of a radio factories, which was another killer story that was used by people. I’ve interviewed some ladies who used to say, Oh, we work in the department that decides who’s going to have what metals, and that was it.
So we get to pick her as a medal. And they said they work, you know, work twice as well because they stopped asking about it. And then I sometimes got drink bought by the servicemen who just asked him because he might get a medal.
And another one was they literally had GCHQ on a board in the front of the building. What has now become GCHQ after bean. She CNCS, the cover name that they used during the war is now the real name.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:36:47] So at what point did Bletchley Park become public
Mark Cotton: [00:36:50] then? What happened when you went to actually part as a new member of staff, the very first thing you did was signed something called the official secrets act, and that basically says you’ll never get to speak about what, what’s happened here.
Depending upon, I think who the new member of staff was, and also who was inducting them, should we say, a few veterans have spoken about at that point, the man at the other side of the desperate. Lean down and take out his service revolver and put it on the desk. And so now if you ever speak to anyone about this, I should personally shoot you myself.
And if you’re a 17 year old, 17 and a half year old girl and the some chat with a gun in front of you, I think you can, that’s going to kind of sink in, isn’t it? So no one thought they would ever speak about this again. A lady I interviewed once. After the war, she, she was working at school as a secretary and they would work in during the holiday period, some point.
And she hadn’t been there long and she’d seen this chap around the school and he was one of the teachers and he came up to her, and I can’t remember exactly what you said now, but you said something that only someone who’d worked at Bletchley Park could have known about. And it wasn’t like top secret.
It was just something, you know, it was a word that had been used at Bletchley Park, and she just sort of looked at him and they just winked and that was it. So they knew that the other person works at Bletchley, but they weren’t, you know, they, you know, even then, they weren’t going to talk about it. In the very late sixties the chap had been the head of the French code breaking Bureau.
A Bertran produced a book where he talks about a Negro. He didn’t go into huge amounts of detail, but he’d spoken about it under him, printed in France. A lot of people in the know kind of knew about it. And also if they sort of Dawn to the library of Congress in America, they probably would have found out exactly what they need to know.
Because you know, for so many years you’ve had freedom of information over there. And you know, all this stuff was sitting in a library Congress. It was decided fondly in 1974 the British government would, would release the information about it. So the first thing that happens is there’s a chap been basically the liaison officer between Bletchley and the services joined the war.
Frank Winterbottom. He writes a book called the ultra secret. Now, he did know an awful lot about. Oh sure. And how it was put together and how it was all used, but he didn’t know everything, and that book’s probably caused more myths. I think probably every myth you have about Bletchley now, you can probably date back to that book.
And then from then on it’s kind of been more and more information’s regularly come out. So by 79 most of the enigma side of the story was known. It wasn’t until the early eighties that some of the story about the Lorenz machine came out. Cell Lorenz was a, a lighter machine that the Germans used, and this was mainly used by high command.
So this would be him talking to his actual field commanders. And there were a lot less networks of that, but it was even more complicated than a Nick Mehta Brian. And this is where they built the Colossus computer. Lights were in the war to actually help break that. The first hint of that didn’t come out till the very early eighties more of that has come out over the years up until, I think the last release was, it was either 2012 or 2015
Dan LeFebvre: [00:40:42] Oh wow.
That’s pretty recent. Wow.
Mark Cotton: [00:40:44] That recent. Yeah. The problem is a lot, a lots of, it’s not so much. The actual enigma breaking or the ranch breaking. It’s the methodology around it because it’s still really basically the same methodology that they’re using it fundamentally, you know, obviously they are using computers and they weren’t using computers, but what you’re looking for and how you do it, one of the biggest parts of code breaking that Breely came and said for Bletchley Park, and, and you could probably say.
The Gordon Welshman was the godfather of this. So in the same way that the touring is known as the, you know, the godfather of computing, cheering, worked really closely with Gordon Welshman, and in fact, Turing’s bomb, which we’ll get onto, no doubt, should actually be called the jury Welshman bond. But I think we’ll go into that later.
But Gordon Welshman realized that in some instances, knowing what’s in the message isn’t that important. I’ve trolled through thousands and thousands of enigma decrypts when I’m putting programs together sometimes, and these messages aren’t, we will be attacking at Dawn, you know, send eight tanks to this coordinate.
No, it’s, it’s two U boat officers who are going on a course in breast in three weeks time and they want to book a hotel room. It’s someone ordering underpants, literally. So it’s just the Manu shy of an army at war. And those messages, even though they’re mundane, are actually really important because when, you know, go back to these keys that I mentioned earlier.
So if you know a certain key issues by certain part of the armed forces, and you know, they always broadcast on a certain frequency. So you’ve got your wife’s service, which are the wireless listeners listening out for that, that frequency, and they’re taking down these messages. And I can use something called direction findings, pinpoint where they are.
So you then know that, for example, you know that Panzer division is located here. Well, that tells you a lot straight off because then if you find out that they go and move. Well, why have they moved? And it’s without even cracking the messages, you can start building up a map of where all of the German armed forces are.
So I mean, a chick’s height. The best example of this is D day. So as the troops leave for D, di Eisenhower knows where every single German Unity’s in France, because for 18 months, but actually park have had something called the Western front committee running. And they have regular meetings running all the way up to Dee day for 18 months, and they’re producing reports all the way through it, and they build up an entire picture of data.
To the extent that around the 26th or 27th, I think of my, the 82nd airborne. Landing zones are changed because they find out a German aerial assault unit. So jolly the bomb paratrooper unit is being moved towards some marital leaves. Now I know they do end up landing near San marital aid and in San Maryles, but that’s only because they were dropped in the wrong place that that landing zone was actually changed and that would directly through flex departs work with this Western front committee.
A lot of that is down to traffic analysis, and that’s what we would now call what they’re doing, what they use using there, which are the call sewings, the ride rate, right? Yeah. Frequencies. That’s what we now call metadata. It’s exactly the same. It’s the same as your head or on your email tells you the IP address is coming from.
It tells you what roots is. It’s been through. It’s that, and that’s what we use now. So I think that’s a lot of the problem with not everything is probably still been released.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:44:41] Well that makes sense. All that information collected together builds a bigger picture. Yeah. All the little things together might not seem that important.
The message about somebody getting new underwear right, might not seem that important, but that information coupled with all this, these other little bits of data, and I think that’s something that as a society, I think we’re getting to be more aware of all this information that we’re giving out and how much it’s, it’s really affecting and how much it can be used.
but it’s interesting that, that, that is essentially what they were doing at Bletchley park was putting a lot of that kind of stuff together
Mark Cotton: [00:45:14] and it was linking things as well. So it seems strange, but Bletchley found an awful lot out about the German army through the Luftwaffe Arthur, because every German army group headquarters had something called a flavor that was, what was the nickname?
So basically this was a, a loof Wafa liaison officer, but then nicknames were flea valves. So when we might lose tracks I have of where a German army group had moved to, because one of the biggest problems is if you’re a static unit in France in 1944 you’re not going to be using enigma to send your messages.
You’re going to be using the telephone and you’re going to be using teleprinters and their landlines and we can’t capture those on the . We can’t listen out for that cause it’s not in the airways. But the might send a move order, they might send a, you know, captain so-and-so is being transferred to be look raffle liaison officer for, I mean, group B, and he’s going to go to such and such a town.
So we then found out where the army group is. So it was using other, all of these different strands of information, you know, and you’ve also got, obviously on the ground, you’ve got resistance fighters and you’ve got SOE agents, so you’ve got human intelligence that way, but all of these things would all be fed in to get the bigger picture.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:46:43] earlier you talked about the machine, and I want to get to that because in the movie we see it’s this massive machine with tons of rotors on it, and we see that they use, they actually used the term Heil Hitler that they see coming through a lot of the. The German messages and they use that to reverse engineer that.
Okay. If Heil Hitler is in all of these messages, we know how that’s coded and so we can use this machine to start decrypting the enigma code. Can you do a bit of decryption for us and explain how the machine worked that they built in order to break the enigma code.
Mark Cotton: [00:47:24] Probably not without breaking my own brain, but I’ll have a guy
even after I’ve been involved so many years, I still bitch bits of how that works. Just fundamental. I’m not a stupid man, but I can’t get my brain around some bits of it. Yeah. There’s a reason why tearing is. Yeah. There’s some reason. Yeah. He was a genius. Basically what you’re trying to do, I said earlier about the, you’ve got 157 million million million combinations it can be before you can even start to tackle that.
You want to start bringing that down. So through other methods of chiropractic, and there’s numerous different parts to this that they would involve. They would try and write. If we do this, that will bring that down a little bit more when it, and if we, if we were, take this out because we know, for example, the one biggest floor than the GMA is, you can pick any key on that keyboard, you know, so it’s a IQ.
You press Q 26 times, it’s never going to come up with cube. It shouldn’t be able to encode itself as as itself. It should always encode itself as another letter. So that is a big . Basically. With all these methods. They basically got it down to, and I think this figures right? 16,000 possible combinations each day for each key.
Now what the bomb machine is doing now, all those dials, there’s a reason that so many, they’re replicating 36 enigma machines. So basically what the machine is doing is trying 36 different versions of what those three rotors positions are, to see if they get a match to do that. That’s where it all just starts blowing my mind.
So the Heil Hitler bit is basically is kind of a short, that is a script rods and shortcut for something that was called cribs. So, especially with the Germans, because they were so efficient, you know, they’re known for their efficiency, you know, everything that they did had structure to it. So for example, you know, if aU boat came up to give the weather report, it would start with the words weather report.
There were loads and loads of these little clues that they would turn into Crips. They’d say, right, we know, you know, we’re, we’re searching for, to try and break, for example, aU boat K. Well, we’ve got these short weather messages that go out, but we know they’re going to start every one with the words whether repo.
So, okay, we know that the letters can’t encourage the same thing. It’s difficult to do in sound. But if you imagine they would have, if you were to write out what the encoded message was and then write out what your guest is underneath it. And if you then lined up those two lists of texts, you know where two letters match between the two that that can’t be right.
So you shift it along a bit more. And that’s basically what the bomb machine is trying to do. So they would come up with these cribs and then they would write something. They called a menu. Don’t ask me how, but if you look at the back of a bomb machine, it’s just this tangle of wires and connectors.
Somehow that is the menu being patched into the bomb machine. I, I, I’ve, I’ve stood in front of that thing. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to the explanation and there’s a bit. Where I, I kinda turn into Homer and when someone’s talking to me and you know, home it doesn’t understand them, then he just hears, ah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Cause it just kept, so it just melts my brain. I don’t understand how it does it, but I know it does it. And that’s what they’re doing. So they would run this machine and sometimes it would just mechanically stop because there was a problem. But. If it found one that would fit the combination they’re looking for, they’d call that stop the bomb girls would, and they’d find that through a, it’s quite funny, the building where the bombs were in Bletchley originally, the ladies in there didn’t find out till 30 40 years later that where they were phoning through to, which they thought was probably down in London or something, was actually the other side of the path.
It was the wooden hoe that they weren’t allowed in just down there. So someone in there would have, we had a machine called the Thai apex, which was our kind of equivalent of a nickname, but was more advanced, but we’d reverse engineered our toy apex machines to act like in a knitting machine. So they would ring through these three letters and they would try the three.
They’d set them showing up at the three letters and then start typing in the message that they’d got. They were trying to break and if playing German came out, they knew they’d got it and then off they’d be for that key and the bright as many of the messages as they could that that’s the simple way that non melt my brain way.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:52:22] Well,
Mark Cotton: [00:52:22] well it sounds like there’s nothing really simple about it
Dan LeFebvre: [00:52:25] but yeah, there’s a great explanation
Mark Cotton: [00:52:28] now. It’s one of the biggest myths or confusions for people is. They know that in design, the bomb and that they have in their minds that you’re in was, you know, the grant, the godfather of computing. So they think that the bomb is a computer and it’s not.
The bomb is an electromechanical device. So it’s exactly the same as an electric typewriter in that, that to that extent that it is just a bunch of metal parts moving. Through the aid of electric power, and there’s no thought process. There’s no computing process. There’s no computing power. It’s not running a program, so to speak.
It’s running a set task that, like I say, with the, with the menu, the patching up the patch by on the bag, I mean, people would, would kick up, could go, Oh, well that’s it. Being programmed. It’s not really, it’s just changing a bunch of wires. So something goes in a different direction. And I think that’s where the confusion comes in that people think, Oh, that must’ve been, you know, Turing’s first computer.
But it’s not the first physical computer that actually is, is the Colossus, which cheering didn’t actually design. He helped Tommy. So Tommy flowers worked for the post office, the general post office. They were called the GPO, and Tommy flowers was called into help with breaking the rents. They had already built one machine that was quite slow and it was reading, trying to repay per type, basically, and then do counts and things.
And that’s how they’re trying to fix it. how they’re trying to break it. He then goes on to design Colossus, but he does some of the fundamentals behind it and the thought process behind it and the methodology comes from touring. Touring helps him early on, but as for actually designing clauses, he couldn’t really be called the designer of clauses.
It’s not till postwar that he actually started really building computers.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:54:20] So that’s good to know though, because I have seen that a lot where a lot of people think that, Oh, the bomb must’ve been a computer, because touring is known as kind of the, you know, the godfather of computing. And so he built this machine.
It must be a computer.
Mark Cotton: [00:54:33] Have you heard of Charles Babbage engine? So it’s no in, in, in one way it’s not different so that it’s like a more advanced Babbage engine and the white wire is, that’s calculating logarithms, I think, wasn’t it originally, this is doing another electronical mechanical device.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:54:50] In the movie we see Alan Turing starts and there’s a kind of a flashback and we see somebody by the name of Christopher more calm.
And then later, Alan actually names one of his machines. Christopher was Christopher more calm, a real person. Can you talk to who he was and did touring really name one of his machines after him?
Mark Cotton: [00:55:12] He definitely was. He was a school friend of Alan’s tool that we know. He was a very, very big influence on Alan’s life.
Obviously everything now is secondhand and hearsay, you know, we don’t know exactly. But we can kind of go from what, what he told her, the people. So what he told family members and what he taught friends and, and peoples that he was teaching post-war in the late forties early fifties so Christopher existed.
We know that. We know there was a friendship there that, you know, it may have been his first love. We don’t know. As for the bomb, no, he didn’t call the first bomb. Christopher. When he arrives at Bletchley park in September 39 in the film, we’ve seen him go straight into the Naval pit. Now he does. He leads the Naval hurt later in the war, but the first thing that he does, he’s put into a team that’s looking at the machine problem team.
There they go, and it’s Alan Dylan. Dylan. Oxy is actually leading that team and they’ve already decided that we need a machine to break this machine. That’s how you do it. W we can do it mathematically. We can do it using people, but we’ll still be doing this. You know, at that point to a broken one, enigma key for one day with all those settings would have taken longer than the world had existed at that point.
You know, that’s the, the, you break it down to that many combinations. So they knew that they would need to be with that machine. And that’s what Alan concentrates on his first work at. Bletchley. So he doesn’t call the first bomb, Christopher. It’s called victory, and it actually is installed on March the 18th 1940 it works, but not well enough.
So he’s designed this machine that does the job, but even he realizes isn’t quick enough at that point, and this is where he starts working with Gordon Welshman. Gordon Worsham comes up with this idea. And, and this is again, another part of it that just really, okay. Yeah. I’ll take your word for it. That’s what it does.
Again, you know, this is why these people were geniuses. I’m not. So Gordon Welshman invents something called the diagonal board, which they add to the bomb machine. So from that point onwards, every bomb is really a touring Welshman bomb. And that second bomb is called Agnes day in Latin or act or the bomb.
The bomb or price is actually, it’s called it Agnes. And that starts working on August the eighth 1940. They then retrofit a diagonal boards of victory. And, and that starts to carry on working from that point. But that sped up the bomb machine to an extent that. Later in the war, if they, you know, they knew they had a good crib or they, they had pretty much a certain, you know, they, they would also do some things called gardening.
So for example, they would know that a certain lighthouse on the French coast, if he spots a British fighter plane, he always sends exactly the same message. And it would be, you know, say British fights are spotted at such and such a time. So if they haven’t broken that, you know, I want to break that key quite quickly the next day, or right.
Send a fighter over there just after midnight. Lo and behold, there’s our enigma operator at the end, tapping noise message, and they get that crib. And on a good day, they could break them in 20 minutes. They never listened to wireless at Bletchley part from one period. And that was the run up to Daytona and a week or two after D-Day.
And they actually set up a section of, of listening station at Bletchley. So literally the messages were handwritten being passed through. So for this year’s D day celebrations, we actually released a lot of those to the public because one of the chaps, he was there at the time, it actually kept copies after the war and he’s given them to the museum and his will and so on.
DDI, they were breaking messages and getting the actual ultra intelligence out to the field commanders within two and a half hours in some cases. So from the moment that message had been sent, two and a half hours later, an allied commander is looking at the message.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:59:31] Wow.
Mark Cotton: [00:59:32] That is an exception. One of the biggest things, and this speaks to, I think, one of the things that you want to talk about about the convoys that are shown in the film, don’t you?
Yes. Right. W this convoy, we need to save this convoy. But she wasn’t best about tactical intelligence. So that unit over there, what they’re going to do in the next six hours, they’re better at looking at the bigger picture and what’s going to happen. So, you know, for DDoS it’s brilliant because they’ve got 18 months, they plan it or everything’s fine.
We just recently had the anniversary of operation market garden, and people say, well, why didn’t ultra know about this? But we did. We coined different, knew about it. We kind of need, in fact, I’m already working on an episode about bulge for later in the year, and you know the, there’s, as I’m reading through enigma de crepes, I can see things that say to me, right, well that’s, that’s the unit that was involved in the back of the boat.
That’s the units they’ve folded. That’s because I’m looking with honed side, and I know that that unit ends up being in the battle of the bulge. And then moving from Italy to France to a German border means that they are about to be one of the units in the boat. I don’t know that at the time. And it also speaks to that thing about in the film where they get to midnight and they haven’t broken it and it’s, that’s it.
Start again, because that isn’t the case because yes, you would let some stuff go by. But breaking that information, it’s not that immediate tactical information that Bletchley are looking for. Most of the time. It’s what’s happening in the future. So breaking something two, three, four days later. So for example, the 82nd airborne was a perfect example, I said earlier.
So we find out that that unit has been transferred to France. Yeah. If that wouldn’t probably wasn’t broken on the day, but as soon as they have broken it, they send that through and that has a major consequence to D day. Going back again to the traffic analysis. So if we know that a certain prequels has been used by Panzer division in Italy in 1944 and all of a sudden, some of our wives station operators start finding that this same frequency is being used in France, and it’s in a certain area of France.
Then we know that that area in France is actually the major training ground and refitting ground for all the Panzer divisions in Germany has. So every Panzer division goes to France when they want to be refitted and say, given new tanks and trained on those new tanks. So that’s why that frequency is no longer being used in Italy, and it’s suddenly started being used in France.
So we know that it had been refitted and that says a number of things that says, one, they’ve gone there, they’re going to be strengthened, they’re going to be given better tanks. It probably also means that they’re going to be put into battles and Morales very shortly. And it’s all these things that not necessarily breaking the message on the day still needs.
And, and that’s what Bletchley was brilliant at, was producing strategic intelligence and intelligence that wasn’t just, you know, like I say, that unit is going to, it’s very rare. Like I said earlier, that you would get a message that says, you know, we’re going to attack it the one tomorrow.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:02:47] Yeah. Well you mentioned earlier, and this kind of leads right into something I didn’t want to talk about.
And the movie, there’s a scene where they find out there’s a British convoy less than an hour away from German U boats. And it is one of those messages where they find out about this, but they can’t warn the convoy about it. Cause if they do, the Germans will know that they’ve cracked enigma and then the Germans will completely change the enigma design.
And. Everything that they’ve worked for up until this point will be for not, and they will lost everything essentially. You talked a little bit about this earlier, and that was one part in the movie that was eyeopening to me is too, once you crack this, you have to decide how much of it you actually take action on because you don’t want others to know that you know what they’re talking about.
And so how, how realistic did the movie get that for the information that they were acting on versus what to leave alone?
Mark Cotton: [01:03:41] I think, again, this is with a lot of what we call the issues with the film. Oh, look at this. Starting each, stepping back as a, as a creator herself, as someone who’s been involved with film and on radio, and you’re looking for shortcuts.
To tell a bigger, a bigger part of the picture. So, you know, for example, you’ll have composite characters of two or three people in one character to give over an essence that you’re trying to push. what they’re doing with that, with the common boy, I can see exactly what they’re trying to do, which is to talk to that bigger picture that you’re asking about of what is the knock on.
And there’s a lot of knock cons. If we might this too obvious, yes, there is a chance the Germans will start being suspicious. Why? They were no more suspicious than they were. No one will ever know. I more done it. She was the head of the boats and then later became the head of the creature in the German Navy.
He instigated changing the Naval enigma to have a four router machine in Nazi 42. And that’s the kind of the closest they ever got to worry, but in a way that was just part of their ongoing changes all the way through the war. They kept changing the enigma machine. They kept changing processes. a lot of the early look that Bletchley had were down to human error.
So I explained earlier all the different processes that had to go through. The, the, the very next thing they had to do and the first thing they had to send to the guy at the other end was a random six letters or three letters. Human bones out. Very good at being random. So you’re going to use things like some of the ladies site, you know, they got to learn about, a lot of Germans were words because they would use that or they might use something as simple as hit L E R.
They just use things that came to mind easily as the war went on. They tightened things up like that and there are less of those and really all the way through the war, the German Navy was more security conscious and the army and the Navy in the air force all had different procedures as well. It appears that every time there was a suspicion, and like I say, it was generally turn it.
They talk themselves out of it. They had so much faith in this machine and they just didn’t imagine that the enemy would have the ability to put together enough people to break it. They were so determined that 157 million million million combinations, no one’s ever going to be, let’s do this. Part of that might been down to the way the German state was organized so.
Hitler basically loins to give lots of people kind of the same job to do and get them to try it out, do each other. So the problem you have with German intelligence is you don’t have a German Bletchley park. You have the , which is the military intelligence that Admiral Kinaxis was running. They’ve got their own code breaking unit.
The SS have got their own code breaking unit. There’s multiple numbers of code breaking units fundamentally, before they try and break the alloyed codes. They’re fundamentally trying to outdo the other guy,
Dan LeFebvre: [01:07:14] which means they probably not talking to each other and helping each other out.
Mark Cotton: [01:07:17] They definitely were not helping each other and they definitely were not talking to each other.
The German Navy were really good. They broke British Naval codes quite early on in the war, and they’d broken the codes for the convoys, and that really helped the U boat. So that’s when the U boat Wolf packs are at that height and what they call the first happy time, where they were just sinking so many millions of tons of shipping every year.
And they’d broken our codes. And we discovered that. And it took a while for the abiltiy to change the codes again. When I was doing an episode on the Bismarck, I read about 4,000 decrypts around that period. And there was a couple in there that I found that I double checked with our historian and he said, yeah, that’s basically them sending information to aU boat that they’ve taken from one of our codes and they’re sending back to them.
Cause it was like, this doesn’t quite look like their normal message. So yeah, they, they were reading our codes, but generally. They would put it down to specialty. Like say for example, Oh, there must have been someone in the attack was someone in the Italian section MREs must have spoken about that.
Must give them that secret way. We’d also try and cover it. So say for example, we broken in an Italian code our way, neither about to send a huge convoy to Rommel. we know that convoy’s going, and as I show in the film, you know, if we attack that, the first thing they’re gonna say is, well, how did they know that we was going to be that they probably cannot coach change it all quick so they might send a play.
Now that just happens to go past that convoluted. So when the Columbo is attacked, lighter, yes. There’s going to be that initial, well, how did they know that mr? Broken. I cut out it. There was that plane, wasn’t that it spotted it? Yeah, it’d be that one in that plane. So they would try and cover it. I think the nearest it came to being discovered was when the Germans invaded Crete because one of the British officers on crepe had ultra intelligence that he’d been given.
And we don’t understand how the Germans didn’t discover it after the capture of crate or it was destroyed. We don’t know. But that was the closest we think it kinds of being discovered. They just kept putting it down too. It must have been human intelligence. Oh, it must’ve been, the French workers who are working in Nepal must have given the British the information about that youth boat going.
Now. They always put it down to that because it seemed so ridiculous that anyone could break it.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:09:48] Yeah. Well, I mean it’s, it’s outcomes raiser, the easiest solution right now you mentioned, possibly destroying something. And that leads into the next question that I have. Cause then near the end of the movie.
The team at Bletchley park celebrates victory in Europe day and then after there, sir told to burn everything and pretend like they don’t know each other anymore. Can you speak to when Bletchley Park’s mission ended at the end of the war, and were they told to destroy everything that we see in the movie and pretty much just kind of pretend like none of this ever happened.
Mark Cotton: [01:10:21] film pretty much gets it right. That’s definitely one of the things they get really, right, because I’ve spoken to a number of veterans, how you speak about exactly that. So you’re going to play a clip now where this slide is called Betty flavor, and she was one of the bomber writers and the bombs were actually in different sites around Britain.
So they weren’t all in one place to be bombed, basically, and she was in a place called East cut, which is just outside London, and she explains exactly what happens after the day. Well, I was bomb operator or East coat on, see, watch, see what was actually on duty when they announced the day. So it stopped the following day.
The chief officer gave us all the little pep talk. Well, I think she thought we were all gonna lose our own or because of everybody. Feeling free and thrown away, caution to the winds and celebrating and drinking. She was a woman. It’s been terrible for her. And where y’all, what’s up to London and throwing the crowds there outside the palace shouting and.
Marching on Dan Piccadilly with about 20 Canadian air force officers all arm-in-arm arm, the marvelous day, and then we slept in the YWC, a Baker street, which we always did in back to peace coat that next day and to be in the following day. Then within. Sat outside, there was a heat wave, sat outside and smashed the bums.
Well, didn’t actually smash them. I have false boys that were GCHQ engineers. They had to dismantle the big things and we had all the small stuff at all these hundreds of drummers to take them a pass. Everything was counted. Screws and bearings and so on. Did that make you feel, Oh, what have we been doing?
No, no. That might move it off. That was, it was the end of it. It was thought that all of the machines had been dismantled in very recent years. GCHQ have admitted that two were kept and they were kept up until the late fifties early sixties we believe they were used until the late fifties and then they were basically stored away until the early sixties when it was realized, we’re never going to use these again, and then they destroyed them.
Then. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a picture of GCHQ so he’s like your, our equivalent of your ass. I, I, it’s a big donut shaped building in Shelton and that’s where our Codebreakers now operate. So a couple of years ago I was lucky enough to be invited there. It’s a golden record, which is a very strange experience, I must say.
So just go to one of the most secret places in Britain.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:13:03] Pop out a recorder.
Mark Cotton: [01:13:05] Well, especially when the receptionist goes through her normal spiel of reading from a car going, you’ve got none of the following devices on your telephone electronic recording device. Yeah, I have actually, sorry, let me explain before you arrested me.
And right in the center of the building, they have their own museum museum, and they’ve actually got some parts from the bombs that they dismantled in the late sixties or early sixties in there, and actually a few parts of Colossus as well. After the war. There’s a lot of different stories about why they did this.
Some people say it was direct order from church show because they were going to capture all these neat machines at the end of the war and they were going to sell them off to all the other Commonwealth countries or the countries that would, you know, at the time were part of the British empire that would soon become independent.
So we wanted to still read their traffic. tiny bits of that that are true. we know, for example, that the East German police were using enigma in the light forties and 50s, so I’ve no doubt the GCHQ were probably reading that traffic. But you know, the film does pretty much get it right. An awful lot of just the paperwork and everything around Bletchley was destroyed.
And yet again, you don’t have to take my word for it because here’s a clip from a lady called Joyce Roberts, who was a tele printer operator. Oh, we used to have fun. We did. I mean, most of the chaps are there a ton of years in Italy and had come back and were really then working up to the mop. So it wasn’t a very dark time.
I suppose it was beginning, but if you remember in 1945 you don’t remember, but in 1945 things was definitely looking at after the invasion. And it looked. Okay. All the time then, so we began to, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I remember I was in too far. This guy’s a picture in there, or two Falcos grill when I was in LA on V night.
I remember hearing about the atom bomb. We were coming from breakfast and we had a big tank of Walter where we washed out some, they were called a knife, fork and spoon, and somebody came up to me and said, there’s been a big new bomb. Just dropped, you know? And that was the beginning of the atomic age. I remember that.
Yeah. But then VJ night, Oh, the chap’s very naughty. Often the chapter in the men’s billets, they all took the furniture out and made a bonfire of it on Fiji. I’ll say they couldn’t care less than the war was over and they thought we’d be demoed, so who cares? I remember that.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:15:52] That has to make it really difficult.
To know exactly what happened when all the documentation and all the evidence was
Mark Cotton: [01:16:00] destroyed at the museum we had all the time. We’re getting people in choir. Unfortunately, it’s more this way now that a family member will say, Oh my granny, we think my granny was actually parked. She’s dealt with now, but we think she was at Bletchley park.
Is she on your route? Roll of honor. And we have to tell them, we don’t know because unless they’ve told us or they were possibly had been in contact with the museum or GCHQ recently, we wouldn’t know. So we have to kind of rely on people coming to us to tell us that they were at Bletchley park. And then we can, we can sort of look at that if we need to look at their, service record.
It doesn’t say code breaking at Bletchley park. Obviously, you know, there’s, it’ll just say. MOA or something for military intelligence or worse, they were ran, for example, it would just say they served it HMS Pembroke five. And we know from that all that speci part. Well, w we know from that they were a bomb on price or, you know, so there’s little hints to what what it was.
But yeah, that’s one of the things the film does kind of get Roy, I don’t know, like I said earlier about the lady, you know, who was working at the stove, because you know, you have Alan in the film. Originally saying to the police, when they arrest, they’re questioning him. What did you do during the war? Oh, I worked in a radio factory and I did just not talk about it, and they had such a sigh, you know?
Oh, right. There’s a gap on your CV here. What? What did you do for that period? Hours. I was just admin. For who? For the foreign office. Okay. What were you doing? Can’t talk about it. No, that’s not going to be very good then. And a lot of people did. You know, Alan’s probably the worst case for how it effected them out post war.
But you know, in much smaller ways that secrecy affected so many of the staff. You know, I’ve spoken to so many veterans that think they didn’t get certain jobs because they couldn’t talk about what they’d done.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:17:54] Yeah. I mean, that’s, it’s important when you’re trying to find a job. You’re looking at the past history and what have you done and prove that you can do what you, what’s you’re blind for.
Mark Cotton: [01:18:02] mean, you think especially post-war, and let’s say you’re a chap and you’ve been a member of the civilian foreign office staff at Bletchley park, as Alan would have been classed for most people. You’d probably go for an interview after the war, and probably the first question that guy on the other side of the desk is going to decide to give is what did you do during the war?
And he’s expecting you to say, Oh, well, I was in the eighth army. I served in North Africa, and then I served in Italy and I ended the end of the war in Northern Italy in the Poe Valley. Oh, alright. Okay. Okay. How’s it bomber command or whatever? If you turn around and say, I worked for the foreign office.
I was in admin. You’ve got another 20 people out there and the next guy comes in, he’s going to tell you that he was in bomber command and was shot down in 1942 and he spent three years in a German prisoner of war camp if you’re going to get the job. So, you know, and we’ve had veterans also who there was one veteran whose father disowned him because he felt, because he hadn’t been in uniform, and it won’t be the only one.
He hadn’t been uniform. He therefore thought that he’d been a coward and hadn’t served his nation. And even on his father’s deathbed, he still felt that he couldn’t tell him the truth. Wow. So his father went, died thinking his son was a coward, and had done nothing for the nation, when in
Dan LeFebvre: [01:19:21] fact he had done one of the most important jobs that there was.
Mark Cotton: [01:19:25] That person, in fact, was one of the most famous Codebreakers as well. There’s been quite a few stories like that, and it’s, you know, that, that it has affected people. I mean, are you always, every time I interview a veteran, I always thank them for their service and it’s so surprising. It is something we’re getting better at in this country, and it’s something I think Americans are really good at for thanking their service personnel.
It’s something we haven’t really done in this country, and it’s only, I would say only in the last 10 15 years people have started doing it. It is very unusual for me to interview a veteran and at the end of the interview to say to them, thank you for their service, for them not to be taken up by taking short, by me saying that and go, Oh, no one’s ever thanked me.
Oh, thank you young man. You know? I like to say to them, you know, in a way they didn’t stop serving you 1945 and no demod they kind of carried on serving for another 30 years because they had to keep that secret for 30 years. You know, with Allen was, I wasn’t, you know, didn’t directly designed Colossus.
He’s been involved with Colossus. It’s forwarded his knowledge of how he’s going to build his universal machine and to not really be able to talk about that in public. Just that on its own must have been so difficult. You know, all of those people. Alan is the prime example, but there are a lot of people who.
Britain probably could have been the world’s leading country for computing if that secrecy hadn’t been there and clauses and what. And you know, fundamentally what had happened at Bletchley park during the war. You can understand why, but it must have been so difficult for those people to live with that.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:21:06] Yeah. I can’t even imagine. I mean, that’s the most important thing that you’ve done with your life up to that point, especially in who knows if you’ll ever do anything that will match it and you still can’t talk about it.
Mark Cotton: [01:21:15] Do you know what Jen, without even knowing about it, you’ve just more or less quoted a Bletchley park veteran, and I’m so glad because it’s from one of the most moving interviews I’ve ever recorded in my entire career.
How did you come
from a friend. My gracious friends actually who had somehow got here, I’ve been invited here and she read it and said, we’re desperately busy. Dren we
Dan LeFebvre: [01:21:42] desperately
Mark Cotton: [01:21:43] need people like you to help us. Why did you come? Were you fresh from school? Yes. Freshman school, yes. And when I got here, of course it was full of my friends because they’d already been invited the same way.
Quite extreme, but it was it
Dan LeFebvre: [01:21:55] largely because of you. You were a
Mark Cotton: [01:21:57] linguist. I think the German thing is very influential, but I had just on a secretarial course or so that I suppose was thought to be useful and I didn’t know a lot of people here, and I was somebody who was prepared to come and get my life storage, which is what we all were when I came here.
No, when I came I was 18 and, what was the bond if interfering another girl of AIG in who didn’t know anything
Dan LeFebvre: [01:22:24] about it anywhere.
Mark Cotton: [01:22:26] And we were lucky enough to be here. That’s the right time in the right case, were able to do all three days. Of course. Is that maybe the most important thing that any of us have ever done in our nose?
We didn’t run out of time. Could we do now that like the force it, you know, you can hear it. Her voice, how emotional and how much it did mean so huh. It’s nice that these people are getting the recognition they deserve now, but you know, it’s very late in the day.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:22:55] Well, earlier you mentioned Alan Turing getting robbed and talking about working at a radio operator.
And I want to talk about that, cause we haven’t really talked to that about that much up until this point. But throughout the entire movie, there’s this plot going on in the 1950s where his home is being robbed and then they kind of tell the story of his time at Bletchley park throughout the movie as flashbacks.
But then ultimately we see. Alan Turing’s years after Bletchley park is being a very sad ending to the story. Some people believe that he killed himself after government mandated hormonal therapy as a form of treatment for homosexuality. But then the movie also implies that no one knew about his work at Bletchley park during his lifetime.
Can you talk about Alan Turing’s years after Bletchley park.
Mark Cotton: [01:23:44] Yeah. One of the biggest things I think the movie misses out on is to the extent it is Allen’s sexuality in a way, because to an extent, you know, the whole subplot of Kang cross blackmailing him, Chris, stop. That doesn’t happen. They never worked together.
Ken cross works in a completely different section. Ken cross was a spy for the Russians. He was supposedly walking out with his trousers stuffed with slips of enigma decrypts. it kind of backfired because the KGB, we believe, didn’t think this could be real, but they didn’t think they could possibly have broken this nigga machine, let alone have all of these day crits
Dan LeFebvre: [01:24:23] just like the Germans.
Mark Cotton: [01:24:26] So they probably ignored everything he sent them. But, the way Bletchley park was set up, it was so compartmentalized. Literally people in one hook didn’t know what people in the next step doing. Like I was saying, that lady phony throat with the stops the bomb. Even to in the same hurt. Someone in one room wouldn’t know what the person in the next room was doing, so it was very compartmentalized like that.
People knew Alan was gay at Bletchley during the war. That wasn’t a secret. There were people who were gay at Bletchley park. It’s not a problem. I think people were more forgiving in a way, whether it was because we were all up against it. I don’t know. But, when the years IOM was first founded, before it was even fairly that the people who became the trustees decided to have a last enigma party.
They called it, and then we’re going to have a reunion of the Coke breakers. And they taught British telecomm who it was at the time, right in the property and GCHQ into Atlanta to do it. This was 1991. And there was still a lot of those early Codebreakers are still left alive. And when I first became involved, I spoke to one of the, I talked to one of the early trustees pizza Wescom and he kept tantalizing me about the fact that people had been there with tape recorders on the day.
So as an audio engineer and a producer, I’m thinking, this is gold. I want this gold. And we couldn’t find them for four years. different people. And we thought, well, it’s one of the earlier trustees who’s no longer connected and he’s taken them away and we’re never going to see those again. And we discovered them in a filing cabinet because they had been at some point, someone to digitize them, and it’s something like 18 hours of recordings.
There are lots of type recorders that time, and you have people like Peter twin who worked directly with Alan Turing, and it’s just a bunch of these people would have been in there, I’m guessing sixties and seventies by then just reminiscing and Peter quite matter of factors. I think one of the interviewers says something to him about, you know, did you know about Alan’s sexuality?
Oh, yes, yes. I mean, he made a pass at me, but you know, I wasn’t that way inclined, so I just don’t. Thank you Alan. But no, I’m not, although it never affected our work. Yeah. And it was, people knew who, who he was and what it was. I think like they kind of don’t in the film. The thing that I think is the saddest part of what happens to Allen.
It’s the way it happens is the fact that in a way he was, he was such an innocent. That is Alan who goes to the police to report that he’s been burgled. And when they asked, you know, why was this chapter? He just turns around and says, Oh, but well, because we’ve been having a sexual relationship, and he describes what form that sexual relationship has taken.
He basically grasped himself up, you know? And I think that is the saddest part, that he was such an innocent in some ways to the world that he didn’t realize what it was going to lead to. And that’s what then leads to the way our antiquated laws were at the time, that if you are convicted, you either had to go to prison or you had to be what they call being chemically straight it, which was supposed to cure you of this.
Yes. Allen’s mother and some people around the family at the time did say, Oh well maybe it was an accident. you know, he had been working with chemicals cause he was, he was also doing, he kind of given a pump computers just before this period and he was moving into biology. This is how clever the goal is.
You know, he was studying. There’s a word for it, and I can’t think what it is at the moment, but he was studying how stripes and spots are created in nature and animals, and the number of petals are flower, things like this. And the work he was doing then in 1952 is still the fundamental basis of the work that’s being carried out now.
So he was working with chemicals at the time, and one of the chemicals was cyanide. So. Sarah Turing used to say to people, she felt it was an accident. You know, he’d got the chemicals on his hand and he was a bit clumsy, and he’s donating the Apple and you know, it’s an accident, but I think it’s probably pretty obvious that it was suicide.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:28:43] It is a sad ending to that story of just a brilliant man. I mean that he could just essentially master computing and then, all right, I’m going to move on to biology now and,
Mark Cotton: [01:28:52] and an uneven, I suppose in a way, you know, if you look at the actual touring test, this is how basis of the film, you know, the film gets its name from the imitation game because he writes this Piper where he says, you know, imagine as this computer, just this device can act like a human being.
You know, how do you. Determining that that is a human being or, or a machine can machines think. And that’s where the imitation game comes from. You know, you’re, you’re talking that’s on a much higher level than just mathematics or chemistry or biology. You know, you’re talking about philosophy there and the nature of being a human being really.
And it was a good, it was really good long distance runner as well. Yeah, just
Dan LeFebvre: [01:29:36] genius level stuff that just melts my mind.
For long time listeners of the podcast, they might know that we covered the imitation game way back on episode number three, and as you might expect over the years since that episode has been released, I’ve had various folks be kind enough to write in about that episode. No, as is often the case with online comments, then nature of that feedback can vary quite a bit.
I’ll get one message that says they insist their version of the story is correct and then another one will come in and they’ll contradict that with yet another version of the story that they say is correct. Now, I really appreciate your help on this, Mark, because you took the time to review that original episode and do some fact checking on that to see how accurate it really was.
And he sent along some great comments. Some of them are things that I got wrong, and some of them are just things that need more clarification. So what I’d like to do is to walk through each of those and I’ll explain what I had said in the original episode, and then you can give us the correction or clarification, whatever it may be.
Mark Cotton: [01:30:39] Yeah. Can I just say one thing before we do this? Yeah. And this, this isn’t even about Bletchley, this is about your podcast. When we first got in touch online, I thought, right, okay, I can listen to this episode, and for a number three episode, I was so impressed how great that show sounded. Oh, really?
Was it was, that was what immediately attracted me to do in this because I thought, no, Dan really cares about what he’s doing. And then the whole premise of the show, and then you know, us doing this, you know it, it just shows. How much you care about this and that, you know? That’s. That’s what makes it so engaging.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:31:20] I appreciate that, and I have to admit I was, it was episode number three, so I was a bit nervous about how many check it out.
Mark Cotton: [01:31:27] You should be a lot prouder of your episode than number three than I am of any episode number three of anything I’ve done. I know that.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:31:35] All right. But you know, regardless, I do want to make sure that we fix some things that got wrong and, and clarify some things just to kind of set the record straight that we can.
So, the first has to do simply with the name of the place that touring was recruited by, I called it the government codes and ciphers school. And even though. People listening to the audio version. I actually written it with an I, but that’s not quite right.
Mark Cotton: [01:32:01] That’s American and British, isn’t it? we, we, we have cipher, so same language separated by notion.
we, we spell it with a Y and it’s, it’s government code and cipher school. Solely for plural.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:32:14] So that’s what you refer to when you say GC as CS, essentially
Mark Cotton: [01:32:18] JC and CS. Yeah, that’s what he’s basically known as up until the end of the war. And then that’s what is now our GCHQ.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:32:25] Okay. Okay. And then shortly after that, in the episode, there was a date that I got incorrect.
And when you mentioned this, I was like, Oh, how did I, how did I get that wrong? I went back and listened to it, and actually I the, when I went back and listened to it, it was. Correct. But then I also know that there’s been times where I’ve edited things and as needed to and, and come back. So there’s probably different versions of that out there.
So with that said, I want to make sure I get this right. I had said that England declared war in Germany on September 9th, 1939 which is not correct. but then that, I said the very next day, touring arrived at Bletchley park. So what’s the correct date?
Mark Cotton: [01:33:07] well, I know how it’s happened. Again, that’s us, Britain, and America, because you, you have your
Produce your dates a different way around. You put the month, first night. Yeah,
Dan LeFebvre: [01:33:17] yeah, that’s true.
Mark Cotton: [01:33:19] Which always confuses me, and that’s where the nines come from, from September, so it’s September the third so, so Germany invaded Poland on the first, they’re given an ultimatum, and at 11 o’clock on September the third we declared war.
As I said earlier, we’re not entirely sure the actual day that you are in terms of. We noticed within sort of the first two to three week period of September, 1939
Dan LeFebvre: [01:33:48] okay. So early on in the war then. I mean, it would’ve been right there. Okay. Yeah,
Mark Cotton: [01:33:53] but as I said earlier, you know, I mean, they actually, the staff are given at this point, pre-war, they’re based in London and they’re given, they’re issued a movement order at the very beginning of August, 1939.
And that’s how old the government cousin’s office school will be moving on the 15th of August. So actually on the day was declared, you know, it’s not the case. Everyone then gets a telegram. There was a kind of myth that said that everyone got this telegram saying that, it went something along the lines of, T flow is not well, and that meant to everyone and got one that you had to arrive at Bletchley park.
Well, bearing in mind that Bletchley park is the. And I emphasized the word secret war station of the secret intelligence service. they’re not going to know where Bletchley park is and that they’ve got to go to the let’s depart. What they more likely received was they would know that they’d get a telegram and they would just get, so Graham saying, buy yourself a ticket to Bletchley park and you’ll be met at the station.
And that’s probably how it was done.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:35:00] A little more straight forward. He don’t know where to go.
Mark Cotton: [01:35:04] Yeah. I think a lot of these myths are grown up, you know, one to three, lack of actual documentation and two, just gilding the Lily a little to make it a bit more exciting right
Dan LeFebvre: [01:35:15] now, the next clarification is something I think we might’ve discovered or covered in our discussion, but I just want to make sure we get it right.
In the original episode, I mentioned that the bomb was a computer and that was something that kind of the, the imitation game kind of implies, and you commented that one of the bigger issues with the historical accuracy of the film was that the bomb was not a computer,
Mark Cotton: [01:35:42] electromechanical device. Not even fundamentally a computer.
You know, it’s not even an early computer. It wasn’t programmable. It wasn’t digital. Colossus is a digital computer, and that’s the first one.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:35:54] In the original episode, I walked through the history of the enigma and how it was based on a decryption device from Poland, and then they hand it off to the British before the Germans attacked Poland.
And he did talk about this a little bit earlier in our discussion, but can you just. Give us kind of a bullet point or just kind of clarify the history of the ending machine for us.
Mark Cotton: [01:36:16] Yeah. I mean, you’re not wrong in what you’ve said there. You’re fundamentally right. So basically, as I said earlier, we’d got this earlier nig machine, the commercial one and how that works.
You read some of the documentation and it’s just, I won’t, well, yes, we’ve worked that out as if it’s nothing, you know, but we have to remember that this is that early machine before the additions are made to it, before the procedures are made, more secure. The next part of the story in reality, because between the Wars, gee, CNCS wasn’t really interested in Germany.
They didn’t see Germany as the immediate threat. It was more Russia and lots of their code broken effort was against Russia and then against Italy. So the Italians are using enigma machines during the war in Ethiopia, and the Spanish are given an enigma machines by the Germans during the Spanish civil war.
And we end up reading both of those. But again, these are, let’s say, a newcomer Mark too. So they might can number of changes to the machine. Then if we move on to the early thirties the poles, I think it was over a holiday weekend. This is the story as I know it, the central post office in Warsaw, they contact whoever’s in charge of the secret service, their version of secret service over, and so we’ve had a package delivered here and it’s labeled for the German embassy, but obviously we’re not going to deliver this until Monday.
Do you want to have a look at it? And I got to have a look at it. And it’s an enigma of shame and it’s one of these more intricate and ignorant change. And over that weekend, the polls basically copy the device. And the polls were the first people to come to the decision that this needed mathematicians to break this machine.
So they had three main Codebreakers who worked on nickname, pre war, and they broke it. And in breaking that machine. They then designed what they called the Bomba, and it’s nothing like the bomb that we see in, in Bletchley part lighter. And we see in the film, it’s a square box. It’s a bout two feet square and maybe four feet, three, four feet high, and it has a number of drums sort of stacked up on top of each other on the top.
But it kind of works on the same principle, what it was doing, sort of testing whales settings that worked up until the mid thirties at which point the Germans bring in the clipboard, and once the clipboard was brought in, it meant the poles could no longer break that. The enigma machine is, it now was what the polls do, which is absolutely vital to what happens at Bletchley park lighter.
Is from March, 1939 basically up til September the first Hitler is ramping up his attacks on Poland and what he wants from Poland. Everybody knows there’s going to be a war. He’s done the sign the year before about jetters vacuum. He’s done the sign previously with Austria. He’s done the same with the rural.
Finally, people are realizing, do you know what? He’s going to do this and he will carry on doing it. The polls, no, they’re going to be attacked. So in July, 1939 polls invite members of the French code breaking pure ride and three members of G CNCS to come and have a meeting in a forest just outside Warsaw.
It’s called the Perry forest. And at that meeting they gave both the French and the British. Everything. They knew about enigma, they gave them copies of the enigma machine that they’d built and they gave them every piece of knowledge they had about it. The really weird thing about this is to get to Germany, the British team traveled by train, so we have in our museum, we have commanded dentist and who was the first commander?
Chief CNCS, and he was up till mid war. We have his passport. And on his passport with a German Eagle and the SWA sticker on it are his visa stamps for traveling through Germany in July, 1939 and then his suitcases where all the information we had to help her start working in neighbor traveling right through Germany.
Wow. Yes. And it didn’t finish there because once Poland’s invited the Polish Cobra breaking team managed to get out and they get to France. And they’re working with the French directly in December, 1939 the best way we can describe it is we couldn’t break into the current version of enigma. The poles can break into the current version of enigma.
The polls had had more success than we had with previous versions. The fundamental things that they’ve learned from doing that, which they told us and told Dillon Knox especially meant that we then made this next leap. And it’s thought that that probably say Bletchley park, at least six months work, which if you think that that period of time means that by Dunkirk and the battle of Britain, we’re beginning to start regularly reading some of the keys and Airforce keys especially.
And that’s so important, you know, to be able to read the lift with his keys during the battler Brin. But we know that Alan Turing goes to Paris in December, 1939 because they’re having a few problems and that meeting in Paris with the Polish Codebreakers, whatever they, they tell him and whatever they sought out for him enables him to come back.
And then in January, 1914 we make our first break into an enigma at Bletchley park.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:42:13] Going back to the original episode, there’s a part where I mentioned that the enigma had to be broken more than once and swell. That’s true. You commented that the true history is a little bit more complicated than that.
Can you try to unravel that a little bit more for us?
Mark Cotton: [01:42:28] Yes. There’s not one in England case we broken every day. Ah, the hoists of the war. The German state has. What we’d call now a network, but electrically called keys. So each part of the German state bit, the army, air force, Navy AB, the foreign office police, everyone had their own sets of keys.
And at the height of the war, the 60 of those, there’s about 60 it needs to be broken and they change every day. They change every night at midnight. And Bletchley, one of the biggest issues is they never have enough staff to do everything. I mean for start, they don’t have enough why service personnel, actually wireless operators listening for that Morse code and writing it down.
There’s not enough of them to be able to do all of that. So for a start, you’ve cut down what you’re selecting, so you have to go, right, okay, we know this certain unit broadcast and certain frequency, and that’s important to us at the moment, so let’s concentrate on that. So they’re breaking only probably 20 to 25 keys a day and they’re not reading all of the traffic from each of those keys either.
They’re only reading a certain percentage of it. Cause obviously we’ve not captured what we haven’t captured in the first place. We can’t read.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:43:40] Right, right. That makes sense. Something else that requires a little bit more clarification from the original episode is the point where I was talking about touring, going to see Winston Churchill about funding and this whole action, this day memo that we see in the movie.
The movie mentioned the cost of the machine was a hundred thousand pounds, and I had said that that was correct, but that’s not really correct. What was the cost of the machine itself? And you kind of give us some more details about the action this day memo that we see in the movie and the funding behind it.
Mark Cotton: [01:44:13] Yeah. So I got David to double check this, our store and still check this. They had an ongoing budget for the bomb machines, and that was where the 100,000 comes from. So by the end of the war, they averaged out in cost and each one cost 60,000 that’s an average. Which in comparison is about the same price as a Sherman tank.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:44:37] That’s a decent price for a machine.
Mark Cotton: [01:44:39] Yeah. So I think that’s a good comparison really. I mean, we built around 200 once we had started sharing intelligence with yourselves, America built loads of bombs. You had your own bombing machine, slightly different design showing went over to America and spent a good year or so in America helping them with it and they slightly redesigned it.
If you see a picture of an American bomb and a British bomb, you can tell yes, they are the same. Shane. That’s probably what the, the American wants actually look a bit better. I didn’t say that.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:45:16] It’s all about functionality. That’s all that really the end of the day.
Mark Cotton: [01:45:19] Oh, on the action. The style wasn’t that, that is the, I think the biggest problem with the film, there’s an entire subplot, and I know why it’s there.
Where they build the character of commander dentist and as being the foil for children. You have to have, you know, your hero has tests. I mean, someone that he fights against as me, in this case, it couldn’t be further from the truth commanded dentist and you just have to read the documentation. We’ve literally, this month, just done an episode on, as we record this CHCF anniversary of that, the star world would say.
So we did an episode about the early days of Blitch depart, and especially about the recruitment and the actual physicality of people turning up. And in the early weeks, Dennison is a very, very, very polite man, but even in these memos that he’s sending, so he sends in the film, Mark Strong plays the character of Menzies, and there’s a letter that he sends Menzies in mid September, 1939 and it’s, it’s very much of its day.
You know, it’s very, very polite. But his main compliance about the conditions for his staff and the fact that, you know, some of them are in one hurt here, some are, have been put in a school down the road. You know, while we’ve had quite fine days in September and the walking has not been bad. I can imagine this will be awful during the winter, you know, and he’s worrying about how he staff, we’re gonna have to walk out in the snow, in the rain in the winter.
And you know how they’re all cramped in one office and they need room to think. Dennis was really concerned about his staff, the way he is portrayed in the film. As you know, his shock at Alan saying, Oh no, I’ll be able to break that. Him saying it won’t be broken. Dennis stir knew it would be broken. You know?
That’s why he just, at that point, he spent something like six, seven, eight years starting this recruitment for mathematicians at this point, cause he knows he’s going to break that machine. And he knows who he needs to break it, and no one is in that building without him knowing that they’re going to help but break that machine.
So that, I mean, that’s the background, that whole letter part. So it’s kind of that, that part of it is built on a myth. The letter exists. So Winston Churchill visited Bletchley wants during world war II, and this was enlightened 1941 and it was just a turned up and he just sort of went and saw the heads of the huts.
In fact, only last month I interviewed a lady. I never thought this would happen. I interviewed a lady who works in her tight with Allen. just worked with Allen for about a month before he went to America, but she was down on the day Churchill visited. So in the film we see Hugh Alexander, by that point here, Alexander takes over from Alan as head of her tight.
The whole struggle between you and Alan is completely made up. So Churchill just basically was turning up to say, Oh, well done, everyone, you know, and spent the morning there and went around and saw the heads of the Hertz and stands on a stone outside the and gives an exaltation. As Arthur Bonstelle told me when I interviewed him, what the church will say, Oh, he just ripped it out.
Well done, and carry on with the good work. And off he went. In the weeks after that, Gordon Welshman decides. He kind of realized that Bletchley was going to have to be a factory. It wasn’t going to be this cottage industry. It’s going to be this code breaking factory and lighter in the ward, Gordon Welsh, and kind of takes over the machines side of things.
So he decides we need more money and we need more help with this. We need more staff. So the letter, although signed box, you’re in, it’s signed by Turing Welshman Alexander and the chappies never mentioned in the film shoot mill in the Berry. Just a letter, basically thanking him for his visit. And then, well, let’s take some, even in the end of it.
So it starts with some weeks ago, you paid us the honor of a visit, and we believe that you regard our work as important. You will have seen that. Thanks largely to the energy and foresight of commanded Travis. He’s taken over from dentist and at this point we’ve been well supplied with the bonds for breaking the German enigma.
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. Principally because we cannot get sufficient staff to deal with it. And it then just gets really quite boring. And they talk about a bunch of wrens they need to take on and, and clerical staff and, and this sort of thing.
And then, because he’s the youngest shortly on the barriers, given the job of going down to London and hand delivering the letters and number 10 down history. And then the rest of it is true so that, you know, whenever he reads the letter, Churchill then says to his mate, right, action this dye. Give them everything they require and let me know that it’s been done.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:50:07] It sounds like the movie changed a few things there then.
Mark Cotton: [01:50:09] Yeah, but I can see why they did it. Again, it’s, it’s to help with the storytelling in a more simplified way because you’ve only got 90 minutes to tell a story that is six years in making, isn’t it?
Dan LeFebvre: [01:50:19] That’s true. The next point to clarify from the original episode has to do with the different enigma machines in use by the Germans and the episode I mentioned, the British were able to crack the enigma machines used by the German army and air force first because they use three rotors.
But then I mentioned the German Navy used four rotors, which made it more difficult to crack. You can give us a little bit more clarification around the different enigma machines. There were different machines used by different branches of the military. Correct.
Mark Cotton: [01:50:52] So lights are in the wall. They all use the three rides a machine.
So it’s only 1942 that the Navy bring in the machine, the full Rachael machine. What is different is the procedures around the security for the enigma. So the German Navy was always more security conscious. that procedures were more set in stone. Anything that kind of relies on human input, you’ve got a point of error there.
So after they’ve gone through the setup each day, one of the things they’re asked to do is select these random letters to send us their first part of the message to the other end. And they’re supposed to think of a random set of letters, and humans aren’t good at random. So a lot of the. Ladies, I’ve spoken to lots of the veterans speak about how many German swear words they got to learn because they would use a German swear word.
It was, it’s, it’s things like that. So you know, there’s a lot of myth around us having to have an enigma machine physically to break the code. Once you know how the machine works, you don’t need the machine. What’s really handy is having those code books. Just having those books with the daily settings.
They knew these as pinches, so they’d go and they’d pinch something, so they were looking to capture you boats, things like that. I was lucky enough a couple of years ago to interview a guy called Arnold Hargreaves, who actually was on a boarding party. They boarded the you on 10. They brought the U boats to the surface, the captain, and set the scuttling charges and the German crew dive off the boat.
They then realize the charges haven’t gone off. at which point we get Homs bulldog the ship they were on between the German sailors and the UBI. So they can’t at this point. So what’s going on the other side of the ship, because we can’t let them know that we’re going to board it. And the boarding party silo, little rowboats over, and they’re basically told anything that isn’t nailed down, putting a bag.
And they came back and they just had Tampa sacks full of everything. It put the German prisoners away, the other part of the ship, and the officers came along and they emptied all these canvas sacks on the deck and the officers went through and said, what we’re having that we’ll have that. We’ll have that right crew.
Help yourselves to the rest. They had everything false teeth. Arnold had one of the officer’s caps. He had a dagger and he had a signaling them, but they will just help themselves. What was taken by the officers was the enigma machine, but more importantly, the code books. And then they would be rushed back to Britain and then they’d be down, you know, Korea would, motorcycle rider would bring those down to Bletchley and then there’d be an excitement at Bletchley.
The lady I spoke about earlier who worked with, your Alexander, she talks about, you know, she’s arriving. She wasn’t directly involved with it. She wasn’t allowed to see them cause they were taken off to a room at the end of the hut. But you know, everyone would be all right. You know, cause they knew that they’d have the next month, they wouldn’t have any problems with the next month.
They could just literally go right or set apart OPEX machine like this and then read you make direct,
Dan LeFebvre: [01:53:58] just have the answers right there. It’s the answer key.
Mark Cotton: [01:54:01] You know, someone’s just giving you the keys to the password. So it was just giving you someone’s password for, you know, basically that’s what it is.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:54:07] Yeah. Well, you, you talked about this briefly earlier, but in the original episode I mentioned that Alan Turing traveled to the United States soon after the U S joined world war two in December of 1941. But the cooperation actually started before that, didn’t it?
Mark Cotton: [01:54:25] Yes, yes. It’s, in February, 1941 for members of the American intelligence service user siloed oats, Britain.
They brought with them what you had built. So America’s biggest code breaking work was obviously done against the Japanese. So you’d kind of built a machine to break the purple code purple machine and the Japanese used, which is add another encryption device. And you brought your version of that for us to have, it was so big they couldn’t fit it on a train.
And it had to be brought down by ship. So as they sailed down the East coast of Britain in the middle of February, which isn’t good weather in the North sea, they’re also attacked by German planes. So they kind of got a bit of a rude awakening to world war two, these four Americans, and they turn up at Bletchley at about 10 o’clock at night, and they’re given a glass of Sherry and commander Denison’s office.
And that is the actual point that the special relationship between our two nations begins, because that’s the first sharing of intelligence, because we basically tell you everything we know about enigma at that point, and that’s when it starts. And during the war, there were two groups of Americans who were working at Bletchley park.
It was a, I think I know exactly, I think between four or 500 Americans working at Bletchley park during world war two
Dan LeFebvre: [01:55:47] Oh wow. Were there people from Bletchley park that went to the U S then and kind of. The opposite way, or
Mark Cotton: [01:55:54] there were a few, not as many. Allan goes, as you said in your original episode, you’re right that Alan goes to America.
He initially helped with the design of the American bombs, and then I think you said about him working on a speech encryption device, which is right. Again, one of the funniest sides is that we believe the office he was working in at one period in New York. Was overlooking radio city, so the radio city dancers or the Rockettes aren’t.
So there’s another myth, the the machine that the British design after type X is called rocket X, and then that’s where this name comes from. But I think we’ll take that with a large pinch of salt, I think. Yeah. Allen works in America for, I think, I think over a year. Well different projects and comes back to Britain, I believe in 43 I think.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:56:51] Okay. Now, something else I said in the original episode was around the secrecy of Bletchley park after world war II, and I mentioned a book called the ultra secret that was published by an officer of the Royal air force and started turning the attention to what went on there. But again, the truth is a little more complex than that.
Can you clarify that a little bit for us?
Mark Cotton: [01:57:13] As far as everyone who served at Bletchley park was concerned. The day they leave Bletchley park, they convinced that this will never be, no one will ever know what they’ve done. Every person who arrives at BECI part, the first thing they do is sign the official secrets act.
In the late 1960s the guy who’d been the head of the French Coburg and Bureau that trunk publishes a book. And in that book he talks about enigma being broken. And that’s really the first time it’s done that I believe some of the polls had written something that had had something published around the same time, but of course, because they’re behind the iron curtain, no one knows about that until the late 1990s.
But, it was kind of a, with people in the know, you know, journalists and the search people knew there was something about some code breaking that was done during world war two. But then in 74, the British government decided, right, we’re going to release stuff about it. Now, whether that was because it no longer mattered.
You know, we know that some countries were carrying on using enigma post-World water for awhile, for example, that these German police were using it. Now, whether by then we knew that no one else was using it, so it didn’t matter. We’ll never know why it was released, but they decided to release it. Now, whether the wind spots in his book was kind of semi-official, whether that was the government’s way of going more, let him write that book and we’ll work with him and it’ll be done.
We don’t know. He did have quite senior position during the war at plexi parts. So he was he air force liaison officer. So he was kind of the link between the intelligence being produced at Bletchley and what is told the air force and what information is passed on to them. So we did kind of know a fair bit, but also I would probably say that just about 99% of the myths that built up around blokes depart can be pinpointed back to that book being released.
Probably the very biggest, most people would know is in that book. Winterbottom says that before covenant tree bond and Coventry’s city in the Midlands in Britain, and it was bombed on the 1st of November, 1940 and he was a huge loss of life and the city center was absolutely destroyed. In the book winds.
Vossen says that a nigga had been broken and they knew it was Coventry. But so to safeguard the secret of enigma being broken, Winston Churchill decides not to warn anyone, and it’s completely untrue. At that point, they couldn’t guarantee breaking enigma every dime for start. And also there was never a message that said, tonight’s we bombed Coventry.
The bigger reason that Coventry was bombed because by this stage, the Germans from quite early stage have been using the system called Konica barn, which is a beam which they broadcast from Germany to beams, and it’s kind of like a direction allied for the bombers and they fly along the thing. And where the two beams intersect is where they dropped the bombs.
We’d discovered this, and British scientists have worked out a way they could, it wasn’t jamming, but because it by, it was based on some thing, which was a, it was a blind Lang landing device that commercially viable launch Tuesdays, and as you flew into an airport in bad weather, one side sent out dots and the insights in our dashes, but in the middle, you just got a constant time because where the dashes weren’t the dots filled in.
So when you were on this tone, you knew that was the, the right volume and it was based on that originally. And we found that we could bend the beam cause what they could do is add extra dots or extra dashes. I don’t know which one it was and that would put the Germans started the off target. But on the day of coven tree being bond, the nearest they could get it to was, it was going to be one of four places that was going to be bombed.
And that wasn’t through a Negro and that was actually through the people working on the beam stuff. And I interviewed sir Arthur , who later in the 1970s actually became the head of GCHQ and he was working in the air force section for Blake’s depart when cold tree was bombed. And he said, the most we could say is there were hints, but no more than that.
Well, they were working on, you know, there wasn’t a message that said is going to be bombed tonight. I think that’s the biggest problem that which bottoms book gave Bletchley, which still the story comes up nearly every November, you know, some 74 years later now, sorry, 79 years later. Now that still comes up every year.
Dan LeFebvre: [02:02:04] I mean, if that was one of the first thing that came out about it, then. People might just assume that, okay, this is the original source, and so it must be fact.
Mark Cotton: [02:02:14] One veteran I interviewed about wind spotters were, one of the questions quite often ask is, you know, when the book came out, what do you think?
And one lady I interviewed literally turned around, so when you went, he should have been home. Oh wow. So just not, didn’t stop. Just she was, she thought he was a traitor.
Dan LeFebvre: [02:02:31] Not a, not a fan.
Mark Cotton: [02:02:32] No.
Dan LeFebvre: [02:02:34] Well, going back to the original episode, the final point, there was a, when I mentioned Winston Churchill’s credit of touring is having these single biggest contribution to allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany.
But that’s not necessarily true. Is it?
Mark Cotton: [02:02:51] We don’t know where that’s come from at all. We don’t know where that quotes come from at all. We can’t find it. Also, the, there’s quite a famous one about Churchill saying that Bletchley park, where his golden Gates that never cackled. We’re struggling to find that as well.
Like I said before, when Bletchley first started being nine and the original trust set up the museum, there’s still a lot of these myths out there and. The story had been slightly embellished, to make it more interesting. But what we try to do now, you know, and that’s all I’ve done with this, you know, I’ve made sure that everything you’ve wanted to know, I’ve gone to our historian just to double check if I don’t know.
And even stuff I find absolutely positive about which she turns out one thing I wasn’t, I was wrong, but that’s what we want to do now. We don’t ever want anyone to come back to us and say, you’re wrong about that. And we get it. We do episodes of the podcast and we have people say, Oh, I think I’ll find that, blah, blah, blah, blah.
And David ends up saying, no, I’ll direct you at this document that’s held in the national archive where it says this one and we want to be 100% accurate there. Everything we say about . Because it’s important. The museum’s role and its core role is to tell the story of the people who served at Bletchley park between 1939 and 1945 and if we don’t tell the truth with doing those people a disservice.
Dan LeFebvre: [02:04:19] There was one. Question. I had that about the movie I wanted to ask real quick, and that is a line where the movie mentions that breaking enigma shorten the war by at least two years and saved over 14 million lives. I have no idea how you would come up with numbers like that, but I’m just curious.
Is there. Any truth to that?
Mark Cotton: [02:04:44] I can see how this has happened. So what happens in July, 1945 always in Ohio, our rights to Menzies and this letter, our previous chairman of the trust was sir John Scarlett, who was the head of for a period. And while he was in office behind his desk, he had the copy of this letter.
So that’s when we found out about it only a few years ago. And we actually had it on display at Bletchley for a few years. In the letter Eisenhower says, and our old quote, this, the intelligence which is emanated from you before and during this campaign has been a priceless value to me. Each has simplified my task as a commander, a normalcy.
It’s saved thousands of British and American lives, and in no small way has contributed to the speed with which the enemy was routed and eventually forced to surrender. Now we think it’s come out of some posts. When spotters book bracingly broke the flip banks and lots of memoirs came out. Now with the white Bletchley was organized, very compartmentalized.
You would have to have been very, very senior to have known the whole story. So lots of the people who are telling the stories, post-war one, they’re doing it from 40 years memory. And two, they’re doing it from 40 years memory of not knowing the whole story. So that has to be taken into account first.
Some of those original memoirs, and at least one, someone decides that they shorten the wall by two years, that the one decides they shortened the war by one year. You know, they all kind of, you know, when they’re obviously pitching to their publishers, you know, what’s this secret? Well, what did it do? You know?
You’ve got a headline, haven’t you? It’s basically come from that. It’s come from the knowledge that Eisenhower has in that kind of alluded to the war being shortened and the saving of lives. And then I think people have subsequently said, well, okay, then if Bletchley park, say, shorten the world war two years and we stay on average, there was 10 million people dining age during the war.
Oh, that means they say 20 million lives. And there’s no way of saying how long they actually didn’t shorten the wall. It helped fundamentally, but we would never be able to say how much did you want the wall bone.
Dan LeFebvre: [02:07:11] Yeah, and it’s, it’s a what if you never know.
Mark Cotton: [02:07:14] We will never know. Well,
Dan LeFebvre: [02:07:16] thank you so much for coming on to chat about the imitation game.
Not only I’ve also taken the time to fact check that original episode. It’s going above and beyond to help tell the true story. I know there’s a lot we covered, but there’s so much more that we couldn’t cover in a single episode. And so that leads us right into your podcast, the official Bletchley park podcast.
Can you share a little bit more about that and where people can find it?
Mark Cotton: [02:07:39] Well, you can find it everywhere. So your audience needs to do research, blitz depart podcasts, wherever people listen to their podcasts, basically. So we’ve been running for just over seven years now. I first became involved with with Bletchley, because I was actually involved with the, the Alan Turing committee.
So when it was coming up to Alan’s Centenery, which was 2012 from 2010 onwards, we were organizing different events around the country and building up for 2012 basically. And as those events became more regular too, in 2012 a lot of them, one was based, we’re based at Bletchley park for obvious reasons.
So I was there a lot, and now I just fell in love with the place. I’d been a few years before once, and it was a nice museum, but it was quite kitschy. it was very amateurish, but that was because the trust had my money. You know, the people who were running it, no money whatsoever. They were literally having meetings on a Monday morning to see if they’d be open the next week.
You know, things were so difficult. The trust. We’re very lucky in Diana Grant from the national lottery, it means that you w when you got one of these heritage lottery grants, you have to match the funding as well. So they did an awful lot of fundraising, but that has just transformed the place that you wouldn’t believe it was the same place.
It’s now a museum of international renowned. It’s, you know, a world heritage site really. And just so professional, you know, to the extent that, you know, like we say, you know, we want to be every single written word, every piece of video, every piece of audio that’s officially connected to Bletchley park.
We want to make sure he’s right. We don’t ever want anyone society to us. You are wrong about that. Things do come out. You know, some of these things that we spoken about today, if we just fight about this five years ago, we wouldn’t have known this. More things I discovered in the archives, because when, you know, when people say, Oh, you know, the national archives have released a whole traunch of new documents.
Someone has to go through that stuff, and there might be 45,000 pages of documents and there might be one page that has some really fundamental thing we don’t know, but someone’s still got read that page to get to it.
Dan LeFebvre: [02:10:05] Someone’s got to go through it all just to find that one page. Yeah. Wow.
Mark Cotton: [02:10:09] I see this all the time.
I learned something new every time I go, you know, I’m at Bletchley a number of times every month. It’s only sort of 20 minutes down the road from where I live. And, every time there’s something new where we record, he’s actually in. David, the historian’s office, when we do our documentaries and they work in the same section as the archiving, and you just walk through the archive and just go, what’s laying around that’s been digitalized at the moment.
You know, you learn something every single time. It’s amazing. And I just love doing the podcast. It’s nice, especially to be able to interview the veterans and to allow these people after so long to be able to tell their stories. You know, you try and explain to them what a podcast is and it’s like a radio show on the internet and, Oh right, okay.
And you tell them it’s been listened to all around the world by tens of thousands of people. Really? Oh, okay. And then they just, they buck up because in a lot of cases, once they ever bothered asking them, I would safely say, and it’s really strange, I’ve never heard one Bletchley park veteran brag about what they did.
They all cite at some point in one way or another. What I did wasn’t important because they were just this tiny Coke, and you have to say to them night, it was, it was important, and that even goes, for example, the lady I mentioned earlier that worked in the hurt Witchery as the conversation went on and she’s describing what she’s doing on realizing she wasn’t a terrible member of clerical staff.
She was fundamentally a Codebreaker. So this isn’t just me saying to a lady who thought she had a boring typing job. No, you did do something important. This is someone who, even as an actual Codebreaker thought she didn’t do anything important. And so explain to these people, I mean, that lady, she come all the way from Tasmania for our reunion.
We have an annual reunion for the veterans. And her two sons were with her and one of her sons was your quintessential Aussie rugby playing, big bloat, mostly bloat. And I turned around partway through the interview and electronic volt, the families, if they’re there, to ask him how he felt about this and he couldn’t speak.
He had tears just streaming down his face because his mother had never told him this, and you can’t buy that. You know, the, the pride that they’ve now got in them. and the fact that she’s been able to tell her story, you know, that, that somebody is just, that makes all of this worthwhile.
Dan LeFebvre: [02:12:45] Wow. That sounds amazing.
Yeah. Well, I’ll make sure to include a link to that in the show notes for this. Of course. Thanks again so much for your time,
Mark Cotton: [02:12:54] Dan. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I, like I said. What convinced me to do this was just the quality of the show that you’re producing and the engaging nature of it, because I just think it’s brilliant.
Dan LeFebvre: [02:13:08] I appreciate it. Especially going back to episode number three, as I mentioned before, that was a, it was one that as any podcast or knows those early episodes, you never know.
Mark Cotton: [02:13:20] We, we, the listeners don’t know this, but we had a conversation via email where I said you were very brave cause I can’t go back and listen to anything before about episode 20 of even of Bletchley.
Dan LeFebvre: [02:13:31] Well, there’s a reason why the imitation game was episode number three. It was one that was very early in my list of obviously, of something that I wanted to cover. Cause I love the movie. I love the, the history behind it. And I, it was, I mean, it’s just fun to dig into the history and try to find the true story.
So I, I do appreciate correcting a lot of that. And I learned a ton through our conversations. And just. it’s, it’s fascinating and it does it, it melts my mind. Trying to think about all of the just pure genius that was there.
Mark Cotton: [02:14:05] You know, for example, another genius at Bletchley park is built up who basically had never seen the Lorenz machine, spent three months with a pencil and paper and worked out how this machine that had 12 rotors and it worked.
It’s when you realize that these, you realize that. There is such a gap between yourself and these people that you could never even start to bridge.
Dan LeFebvre: [02:14:31] Yes. Yeah. It’s just, okay, that’s, that’s how that works. I will take your word for it because obviously I have no idea.