Book launch and handover of never-seen-before artefacts to Bletchley Park Trust

MPMC Gordon Welchman
MPMC Gordon Welchman

The biography of one of the Government Code and Cypher School’s less-celebrated geniuses will be launched with the handover of precious, never seen before artefacts to the Bletchley Park Trust.

The launch at Bletchley Park on Wednesday, April 23, at 10.30am will see a host of priceless papers and possessions formally donated to the Bletchley Park Trust by members of Gordon Welchman’s family. They include Welchman’s personal diaries and hundreds of letters including one which gives a glimpse into the battle Welchman had over the revelations in his book, The Hut Six Story.

The author of Gordon Welchman, Bletchley Park’s Architect of Ultra Intelligence, Bletchley Park Historian Dr Joel Greenberg, said: “It was the first book which actually explained how the Codebreakers decrypted German operational communications on an industrial scale throughout the war. In previous books there was lots of information about how it affected the outcome of World War Two, but nobody was allowed to or dared describe the process of how they actually did it.”

One of the documents being displayed is a memo to the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1982, warning her of the security fears surrounding the forthcoming publication of his book in the UK. 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. Joel said: “Gordon Welchman was one of Bletchley Park’s most important figures during World War Two and his contribution was fundamental to its success.”

Members of Gordon Welchman’s family will be present to see Dr Greenberg formally hand over to the Bletchley Park Trust the papers and possessions they donated to him for his research. The letters and documents had been in Welchman’s son Nick’s loft since 1985, until Dr Greenberg began working on the book in 2011.