Today HM the Queen went to Bletchley Park, to unveil the memorial to all those codebreakers. In her speech, she said
…It is impossible to overstate the deep sense of admiration, gratitude, and national debt that we owe to all those men and, especially, women. They were called to this place in the greatest of secrecy - so much so that some of their families will never know the full extent of their contribution - as they set about on a seemingly impossible mission; a massive challenge in the field of crypt analysis: for the first time pitting technology against technology…We can be proud of the legacy of Bletchley: proud that Colossus was the first computer, and that the British people, supported by our friends and allies, rose to the challenge. At heart we have always been a nation of problem solvers. This natural aptitude was taken to new heights by the emergency of war, showing that necessity is indeed the mother of invention, and that battles can be won, and many lives saved, by using brainpower as well as firepower; deliberation as well as force…Feeling very proud of my Mum – she was one of those women. It is good that all these workers have at last been acknowledged.
She never spoke about her work – but I know that she had been working as a civilian clerk in the Foreign Office, and was whisked away to do this secret work. Despite leaving school at 16 with few qualifications, she was very gifted at crossword solving, maths puzzles, and word games. She was a brilliant proof-reader, and could spot an error in spellings or calculations instantly. And she was a woman of peace- who saved lives by using her brainpower, not by firepower.
picture from BBC