Author(s): Sinclair McKay
Bletchley Park was where one of the warOCOs most famous OCo and crucial OCo achievements was made: the cracking of GermanyOCOs OC EnigmaOCO code in which its most important military communications were couched.
This country house in the Buckinghamshire countryside was home to BritainOCOs most brilliant mathematical brains, like Alan Turing, and the scene of immense advances in technology OCo indeed, the birth of modern computing. The military codes deciphered there were instrumental in turning both the Battle of the Atlantic and the war in North Africa.
But, though plenty has been written about the boffins, and the codebreaking, fictional and non-fiction OCo from Robert Harris and Ian McEwan to Andrew HodgesOCO biography of Turing OCo what of the thousands of men and women who lived and worked there during the war? What was life like for them OCo an odd, secret territory between the civilian and the military?
Sinclair McKayOCOs book is the first history for the general reader of life at Bletchley Park, and an amazing compendium of memories from people now in their eighties OCo of skating on the frozen lake in the grounds (a depressed Angus Wilson, the novelist, once threw himself in) OCo of a youthful Roy Jenkins, useless at codebreaking, of the high jinks at nearby accommodation hostels OCo and of the implacable secrecy that meant girlfriend and boyfriend working in adjacent huts knew nothing about each otherOCOs work.
Pre-order the new book, Secret Listeners, by Sinclair McKay. Published on October 4, 2012.
Before Bletchley Park could break the German war machineOCOs code, its daily military communications had to be monitored and recording by OC the Listening ServiceOCO - the wartime department whose bases moved with every theatre of war: Cairo, Malta, Gibraltar, Iraq, Cyprus, as well as having listening stations along the eastern coast of Britain to intercept radio traffic in the European theatre. This is the story of the - usually very young - men and women sent out to farflung outposts to listen in for Bletchley Park, an oral history of exotic locations and ordinary lives turned upside down by a sudden remote posting - the heady nightlife in Cairo, filing cabinets full of snakes in North Africa, and flights out to Delhi by luxurious flying boat."
'McKay's book is an eloquent tribute to a quite remarkable group of men and women, whose like we will not see again.' Four stars **** Mail On Sunday 'I found this a truly breathtaking, eye-opening book.' -- A. N. Wilson Reader's Digest 'It is their stories, and the humbling thought of what their dedication to duty achieved, that make this book worth reading.' Four stars **** Daily Telegraph
Sinclair McKay writes for the Daily Telegrap;h and Daily Mail and has written books about James Bond and Hammer horror for Aurum. He lives in London