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Historians have postulated that, without Bletchley Park, the Allies may never have won the war.
But, despite an impressive contribution to the war effort, the Bletchley Park site, now a museum, faces a bleak future unless it can secure funding to keep its doors open and its numerous exhibits from rotting away.
The Bletchley Park Trust receives no external funding. It has been deemed ineligible for funding by the National Lottery, and turned down by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation because the Microsoft founder will only fund internet-based technology projects.
"We are just about surviving. Money — or lack of it — is our big problem here. I think we have two to three more years of survival, but we need this time to find a solution to this," said Simon Greenish, the Trust's director.
As a result of lack of funds, the Trust is unable to rebuild the site's rotting infrastructure and faces an uncertain future. "The Trust is the hardest-up museum I know," said Greenish. "We have this huge estate to run and it's one of the most important World War II stories there is."
Bletchley Park — code-named Station X to keep its location from the Germans — and its outstations were responsible for intercepting German radio signals intended for broadcast to the army, navy and air force, and decoding them into meaningful messages. The job was thought to be next to impossible: German encryption was so secure that the chances of decoding it with random guesses were 150 quintillion to one.
Nine thousand staff worked around the clock at the Buckinghamshire site to break the German codes, eventually gleaning enough information to head off critical enemy manoeuvres.
The operation all started in the mansion pictured above in 1939, when it became the home of the Government Code and Cipher School (GCCS), the forerunner of today's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
The government had intervened to prevent a local property tycoon from developing the site for housing, hoping to provide a safer location for the GCCS, away from the obvious dangers of its previous home in central London. At the intersection of major road, rail and telecommunications connections and en route between the top two universities, Cambridge and Oxford, Bletchley Park was ideal.
The intensity of the codebreaking operation meant it soon outgrew the confines of the mansion, spilling into the cottages in the surrounding stable yard.
It was in one of these cottages that the codebreakers first tasted success. Alfred Dillwyn Knox was believed to have broken the first German message in January 1940, five months after the GCCS moved in.
A cryptanalysist and scholar from the University of Cambridge, 55-year-old Knox was critical to Britain's efforts to crack the codes produced by the German Enigma machines.
Sadly, he never survived to see the Allies claim victory, passing away in 1943 while pursuing his codebreaking efforts.