The biography of one of Bletchley Park’s lesser-celebrated geniuses, Gordon Welchman, has been launched with the handover of personal documents and possessions to the Bletchley Park Trust.
They include letters and documents which had been in Welchman’s son Nick’s loft until he was approached by the author, Dr Joel Greenberg, in 2011.
As well as the never-seen-before items displayed at the launch in the Bletchley Park Mansion, also on show was a memo sent to Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister, in 1982, warning her of security fears surrounding the forthcoming publication of Gordon Welchman’s own book, The Hut Six Story. It bears her annotation asking who was publishing it in the UK. This memo, which was released into the National Archive in 2013, along with personal items donated by Welchman’s family, such as a pewter tankard and Welchman’s OBE, will help Bletchley Park tell the story of a man whose work was crucial to the success of Bletchley Park but whose name is one of many most people have never heard.
Welchman’s daughter, Ros, wrote the foreword in her father’s biography; Gordon Welchman, Bletchley Park’s Architect of Ultra Intelligence, and was at the launch. She said: “I’m glad he’s getting this recognition. I was unable to throw away almost anything relating to my father and I’m enormously grateful that someone else was interested in him.”
Joel added: “When I read (Welchman’s book) The Hut Six Story I thought he sounded a bit arrogant but he had the vision to realise they would be getting thousands of messages a day and devised the production line system to deal with that. It was revolutionary at the time.”
Tickets are on sale now for Bletchley Park Presents Dr Joel Greenberg; a talk about Gordon Welchman, on Sunday, May 18. You can hear more from Gordon Welchman’s family at the launch in the next episode of the Bletchley Park Podcast, out May 10.