The Bletchley Girls. War, secrecy, love and loss:
The women of Bletchley Park tell their story
Tessa Dunlop (Hodder & Stoughton, $49.99)
Reviewed by Judith Nathan
Coinciding as it does with the movie Imitation Game which focusses on Alan Turing breaking the Enigma code in Hut 6 at Bletchley Park (“BP”), this book is likely to attract a wide readership. It deserves to do so, as it illustrates that BP was very much more than Turing and his colleagues. The first astonishing fact I learned was the sheer scale of operations. The scope of the work was much wider than Enigma. It is estimated that 8,500 -10,000 people worked at BP during the war, 75% of them women. The workers often did not know how their work fitted in to the bigger picture and certainly did not know what went on in other parts of BP.
Tessa Dunlop, a broadcaster and historian, interviewed fifteen articulate women from amongst those who worked at BP: they had an average age of ninety. She has produced a very readable account of their varied experiences. In a decision that adds to the interest of this book, Dunlop included women (not counted in the 8,500-10,000) who worked at some of the satellite stations which fed data to Bletchley, for example one who monitored the communications of German shipping from Yorkshire.