Codebreaking hero was worthy of Olympic fame

Greg Rutherford with his Olympic stamp
Greg Rutherford with his Olympic stamp

THE man hailed a hero for cracking Second World War secrets narrowly missed achieving a very different kind of fame – as an Olympic medallist.

Computing genius Alan Turing knocked years of the war after he deciphered the German Enigma code.

Alan Turing statue at Bletchley Park

Alan Turing statue at Bletchley Park

But Mr Turing had another great talent – for long distance running.

Bletchley Park, home to Mr Turing and the Second World War codebreakers, this week issued a unique set of stamps featuring newly crowned Olympic gold medalist Greg Rutherford alongside the war hero.

Bletchley Park Post 
Office is issuing 50 covers using the Royal Mail Gold Medal mini sheet of Mr Rutherford, alternated with the Park’s ‘Turing Torch’ and ‘Union Flag’ designs.

When working at Bletchley Park, Mr Turing was regularly called to meetings in London. While his colleagues relied upon wartime public transport, he donned his running shoes and jogged the entire 50 miles, telling his employers it “helped him to relax”.

He often arrived at his destination before his co-workers. By the mid 1940s he was taking part in marathons and cross country events all over the country.

He was scouted by coaches talent spotting for the 1948 Olympics and took part in trials but came fifth. Experts were positive his talent could have been developed to Olympic standard. They describe his style as “laboured” and witnesses remember “strange, grunting noises” as he ran.

But despite this lack of finesse, he managed a best marathon time of two hours, 46 minutes and three seconds – just 11 minutes slower than the winner of the 1948 Olympic Games.

A silver medallist that year was Tom Richards – a man Mr Turing beat in a cross country race.

In 1950 he was forced to quit running due to a leg injury. Two years later he was prosecuted for homosexuality. Instead of going to prison, he agreed to take female hormones for a year. In 1954 he was found dead at his home, next to an 
apple containing cyanide.

The Citizen supports the fight for Alan Turing to 
receive an official pardon.

The new Bletchley Park Post Office stamps cost £15 each. To place an order 
contact Ellie on 01908 363489 or email