Government to honour Bletchley veterans

Summary:The WWII code-breakers are to be given a badge for their innovative cryptographic work, which until recently was still being used by UK intelligence services

The government is to give Bletchley Park WWII codebreakers a badge to commemorate their efforts during the war.

The commemorative scheme, which will be open to all military and civilian personnel who served at Bletchley Park and its outstations, will be launched in a ceremony on Thursday.

Simon Greenish, director of Bletchley Park Trust, welcomed the public recognition by the government.

"I think it's wonderful," Greenish told ZDNet UK on Monday. "At long last the government is finally recognising the enormous contribution of the WWII code-breakers."

Greenish said that government had taken 64 years to recognise the efforts at Bletchley because the work there had been so secret, and because the innovations in mathematics and cryptography from Bletchley Park until recently still had a bearing on UK intelligence work.

"The work at Bletchley gave us a significant start in intelligence work throughout the Cold War," said Greenish. "I'm told the maths was so advanced the government was very reluctant until extremely recently to say anything, particularly the work around Colossus."

Colossus is widely held to be the first true electronic digital reprogrammable computer. It was used in WWII to decrypt high-level German communications, but Colossus itself and its designs were destroyed or hidden at the end of the war. 

The badge, which will not be awarded posthumously, will be available to approximately 1,700 people, Greenish added. It was devised by the government, in conjunction with GCHQ.

Bletchley badge

 
This illustration shows the design of the badge, which was devised in conjunction with GCHQ
 

Topics: Security

About

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

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