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June 6th 2015 Speaker: Mary Kenyon Mary is now an author who previously worked at Bletchley Park

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In addition to describing the work that was undertaken at Bletchley Park, Mary’s accounts of her own time there revealed a very personal view of what day to day life was like at the Park. Everyone had to sign the official secrets act and even today there are those who still feel unable to discuss what went on there. Security was very tight and two people lost their lives testing it. Visitors would sometimes arrive in the guise of a shooting party, there was no military hierarchy and people did not discuss their rank. Mary could not recall meeting famous names, such as Alan Turing, but she said she would not have known about his important role anyway, as people did not question one another about the work they did. In the huts the code breakers worked in black-out, with neon lighting and the huts were not cleaned for security reasons.


Recruits were billeted locally but Mary was eventually found accommodation on the Park after she was disciplined for making a sketch of the family she was staying with showing them watching her eating! Although her new room was small she preferred it for the privacy it offered. She did however, make life-long friends despite all the restrictions.


After VE Day Mary returned from leave to find Hut 6 had been burnt down on the order of Winston Churchill, because it was feared the centre’s secrets would fall into the hands of the Russians.


Pigeons played an important part during the war and even received tiny medals. Much later the human workers at Bletchley Park also received Service Medals and Mary brought along hers to show the group. The work carried out at Bletchley Park shortened the war and Mary Kenyon’s recollections were expressed in a very interesting and engaging manner, providing a vivid picture of an aspect of the war only recently unveiled. Mary was encouraged by several members to make an audio record of her story.


Recommended reading:

The Secret Life Of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay

Bletchley Park People: Churchill's Geese that Never Cackled by Marion Hill


Julie Gowers



Brentwood Writers’ Circle was delighted to welcome local resident Mary Kenyon to talk about her wartime experiences. Mary studied at Oxford University and after graduating was immediately recruited by Bletchley Park's Harold Fletcher, a distinguished mathematician, who had visited the university on a recruitment drive. Only 20 years old at the time, Mary found herself in Hut 6, one of several huts at the Bletchley Park campus, a highly secret establishment devoted to breaking the Enigma ciphers used by the German army and the Luftwaffe during World War ll. Mary worked on the codes, which were transmitted in blocks of five letters, looking for those that were suitable for cracking. The monotonous but vital work was made easier when Colossus, the world's first computer, was built in 1944.

OTHER NEWS


Last month’s meeting also included presentations to Denis Ahern and Tony Galcius for their first and third winning entries to the Jack Kendall Competition; a reminder was given about registering published books with libraries - authors receive 6.7p each time a book is borrowed, and it was announced that Countryside books is taking on fewer authors because of the decline in local book shops.


WRITERS’ QUOTES


“Women want love to be a novel. Men,

a short story.” 
Daphne du Maurier


What is the difference between a cat and a comma? A cat has claws at the end of its paws and a comma is a pause at the end of a clause.


Submitted by Terry Lockhart