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A rare group photo of staff from Hut 3 and Hut 6 taken towards the end of World War Two

This light-hearted poem was composed by staff of Bletchley Park at the end of World War Two – a similar time to when this photo was taken. The alphabet provides an insight into the personalities of some of those who worked here. Many versions of this poem are known to exist, and various Veterans have kindly donated copies to the Bletchley Park Trust.

This version includes three separate verses for X, Y and Z, whilst earlier versions only include one verse for all three letters. We know this later version was performed around VJ Day (15 August 1945). Firstly, it’s referenced in the additional verses (see Y). Secondly, the first verse (A) references the general election that saw Labour’s Clement Attlee become Prime Minister on 26 July 1945 (causing the Conservative MP Anthony Eden to be made redundant from his role as Foreign Secretary).

We also have a handwritten example of this version in the Bletchley Park collection from Stanley Sedgwick, along with ‘Bumph Palace’, another Bletchley Park themed poem, evidently noted down on the same occasion. Another Veteran, Myfanwy Cornwall-Jones’ version of ‘Bumph Palace’ has an annotation: ‘Sung by Douglas Jones straight at the last concert…+noted down on an old envelope by M. Cornwall Jones.’ It’s fairly safe to assume then that this is when Sedgwick also noted it down.

We suspect that the reason this alphabet song, and ‘Bumph Palace’ are so common is that they circulated among staff at the end of the war, during the period just before demobilisation, when people had less to do and were being allowed to mix more freely.

Follow the hyperlinks to find the Roll of Honour entries for the Veterans listed in the alphabet.


A is for Anthony, our nominal head,

At least until the country went “Red”

We’re Bevin boys now and through Ernies capers

Poor Eden has had his redundancy papers.

Anthony Eden, Foreign Secretary


B is for Budd, the Head of Hut 2

Who hands out the wallop to me and to you

When the Park closes down, the last man to go

Will be Mr. Budd – at least we hope so.

George Budd, Chief Groundsman and Quartermaster


C is for Crawley – our own dietician

Who serves up our grub like a mathematician

It’s round stodge or square for the rest of your life,

And eat the darned stuff without even a knife.

Cecil Crawley, Catering Manager


D is for Denny, whose nickname is stoker

(We think, ‘cos he peps up his pipe with a poker)

He issues the ‘Bronco’ and beer in a cask

If it’s not in the window come in and ask.

Cecil Denny, Finance Officer, later Establishment Officer


E is for Sir Edward, the Guv’nor upstairs

Who pinches our clubroom for Christmas affairs

He passes our transport times without number

In a pre-war upholstered beige-coloured Humber

Sir Edward Travis, Deputy Director (Service), effective head of Bletchley Park


F is for Foss – six foot in his shoes

Seen in a kilt but nir tartan trews

If on a Friday a stroll you will take

You’ll find him dancing a reel by the lake

Hugh Foss, head of Japanese Naval cryptography


G is for Griffith who finds us our digs

Some live like princes, some live like pigs

It’s not good protesting, you’re wasting your breath

If you find your own billet he’s tickled to death

Herbet Griffith, Billeting Officer


H is for Howgate, deceiver of Wrens

He lures the poor creatures to dimly lit dens

He twirls his moustache is manly and curt

But spoils the effect with an A.T.S. shirts

Malcolm Howgate, Hut 6 and SIXTA, Drama Group


I is Intelligence, the Corps in the Park

They all need a hair cut but please keep it dark

The question I hope is to be answered one day

Is how can a corpse be intelligent, pray?


J is for Joan the sec. of the club

She chases you up for an overdue ‘sub’

She books you the gatehouse and looks up your trains

Then gets her flowers pinched for taking such pains.

Joan Dudley-Smith, secretary of Drama Group and Recreational Club.


K is for Kevin with hair slightly red

A crescent shaped scar on the side of the head

You may think he got it from some ancient dirk

But he says his mother was scared by a Turk

Kevin O’Neill, Army captain in Military Section


L is for Lowe, a clanking occurs

Handlebar Harry is out with his spurs

He doesn’t claim to be much of a dancer

But what can you hope from a Bengali Lancer?

Probably Captain John Lowe, Hut 3


M for John Moore, whose fungus ‘tis said

Allow him to carry on drinking in bed

A slight overstatement his friends all retort

For when fully loaded it holds but a quart.

John Moore, Air Section Admin Officer and OC RAF Wing of Bletchley Park Defence Force


N is for Nenk the Major in F

When staff wanted leave he used to be deaf

Now that his number is not far away

He took them all out for a picnic one day

David Nenk, Military Section, Japanese, Drama Group


O is for Owen, that’s Dudley I mean

When the curtain goes up he’s not to be seen

But if it comes down in quite the wrong place

It’s Dudley the stage boss who loses his face.

Dudley Owen, Hut 8 and stage manager of Bletchley Park Drama Group productions


P is for Parker, the check-suited dope

Who thinks that his acting surpasses Bob Hope.

We know that his forte’s a bullocks pack pins

Imagine a fan mail to father of twins!

Reg Parker, Hut 6 and Drama Group


Q is for Tea, it’s only a penny

If there is cake it stretches to Fenny

If work is a bore I’m sure you’ll agree

Let’s on the T.Q. on the Q.T.


R is for Reiss, who can always be found

With a large coloured brolly and two feet of hound.

When he goes up to Heaven and his name they record

We hope they will ask “Is it down on the board?”

Vincent Reiss, Transport Officer


S is for Sedgewick who ran all the “hops”

In the tough old days of American cops,

Hush, hush, whisper who dare,

He faintly resembles that chap Fred Astaire.

Stanley Sedgwick, Air Section and secretary of the Bletchley Park Ballroom Dancing Club


T is for Tiltman just one of the boys

Red tabs he won’t wear with brown corduroys

When billets were scarce, Dame Rumour doth say

He lived in the States and flew in each day.

John Tiltman, Chief Cryptographer etc


U is for Uncle Sam, who sent us some chaps

Three thousand miles to Bletchley perhaps

They came for the fashionable season

We are glad to have them, whatever the reason.


V is the Visitor, distinguished Brass-Hat

Comes snooping around to see what we’re at

We sweep the place clean with dustpan and broom

And move all the empties to some other room.


W is for Wallace, the Colonel, you know

He name’s at the end of a B.P.G.O.

He sits in a room that looks out on the grass

And forbids you to prop up your bike on the glass.

B E ‘Bert’ Wallace, Chief Admin Officer


(Some copies of this alphabet omit verses for X,Y and Z, instead using this verse for all three:

XYZ are frightful stinkers

We haven’t one among our thinkers – hic – drinkers

And so perforce this daft effusion

We must bring now to a conclusion.)


X is the name of our perishing station,

The board at the gates gives you no indication

Of what we are up to, for all that is states

Is “Go very slowly through our Secret gates.”


Y is for you, folks in the hall;

As time passes by I hope you’ll recall

The dances you’ve been to here – above all

To-night the Japanese Victory Ball.


Z is the stinker, I think you’ll agree

I can’t find a name that starts with a zee

That is the end of the scurrilous rot

I hope that my friends who are mentioned will not

Take offence, or yours truly for slander will sue.

I must say I liked it and hope you did too.