HRH The Duchess of Cambridge visited Bletchley Park today to view a special D-Day exhibition in the newly restored Teleprinter Building, marking the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings.
The historic Teleprinter Building was where Codebreakers received hundreds of thousands of enemy messages, intercepted at secret listening posts across the UK, throughout World War Two. Based on recently declassified materials, the building now hosts the special exhibition D-Day: Interception, Intelligence, Invasion, which presents how secret intelligence produced at Bletchley Park was integral to the D-Day invasion on 6 June 1944. The restoration of Teleprinter Building and creation of the D-Day exhibition have been made possible through the support of BT, the Sole Corporate Partner of the restoration, and the Sole Partner of the exhibition.
The Duchess met with those who worked together to deliver the restoration of the Teleprinter Building, meeting BT’s Chairman Jan du Plessis and other representatives from BT. She also met with Bletchley Park’s exhibitions and site works teams, plus exhibition contractors Centre Screen and PLB Projects, and construction company, Wilford & Dean.
The Duchess of Cambridge viewed the immersive exhibition before meeting local junior school children from Akeley Wood School, Buckinghamshire, who were taking part in one of Bletchley Park Trust’s new interactive learning activities. The pupils had the opportunity to take on the role of codebreakers in June 1944, intercepting and deciphering German communications in order to understand their order of battle and decide whether the Operation Fortitude deception plans had been successful.
Afterwards Her Royal Highness met with four Bletchley Park Veterans who worked in the Teleprinter Building and other departments directly linked to intelligence gathering in the build-up to D-Day. These included:
- Rena Stewart, who worked in Hut 3, 1944-45
- Georgina Rose, a Teleprinter Operator and Morse Code Slip Reader in Block E, 1943-45
- Elizabeth Diacon, a Teleprinter Room Supervisor, serving Hut 3, Hut 6 and Hut 8, 1944-45
- Audrey Mather, a Teleprinter Operator who was based in Block E, in 1945
The Duchess of Cambridge’s grandmother Valerie Glassborow, and her twin sister Mary, both worked at Bletchley Park during World War Two. During her visit The Duchess was surprised with the unveiling of two commemorative bricks on the Bletchley Park Codebreakers’ Wall recognising Valerie and Mary Glassborow’s wartime work here. The Glassborow Twins, as they were known, both worked in Hut 16, monitoring traffic from the secret listening stations across the UK (known as ‘Y’ Stations.)
Before leaving, The Duchess was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Lawson Bischoff. Schoolchildren visiting Bletchley Park from College Gerard Philipe, France; Kinross School, Scotland; and Woodmansterne School, London, joined the waiting crowd of visitors lined up on site to greet Her Royal Highness.
The Duchess of Cambridge last visited Bletchley Park in 2014, following an extensive renovation and a successful Heritage Lottery Fund funded project, where the site relaunched becoming an internationally renowned heritage attraction.
Iain Standen, Chief Executive of Bletchley Park Trust, said: “We were thrilled to welcome HRH The Duchess of Cambridge back to Bletchley Park. The Teleprinter Building and the exhibition are an important part of our ongoing restoration of this iconic and important site, and mission to interpret the work that happened here for future generations. It is also a chance to highlight how the work of all those at Bletchley Park, including The Duchess’ grandmother Valerie Glassborow, and her twin sister Mary, had a direct impact on military operations during World War Two. Her Royal Highness, her family and other families of Bletchley Park Veterans can be justifiably proud of the work they did to support the war effort.”
Jan du Plessis, Chairman of BT said: “BT’s relationship with Britain’s Codebreakers goes back a long way, which is why we were so pleased to support this project. The sponsorship we have provided will ensure that people can experience the D-Day exhibition in a new, immersive way. We are thrilled that HRH, the Duchess of Cambridge, has seen the exhibition and we hope that many more are able to come and enjoy it over coming months. Helping restore the building provided us with the opportunity to delve back into our wartime history and rediscover the contribution the GPO, BT’s predecessor, played in World War II, which reached far beyond Bletchley Park.”
Kate Travers, Head of Learning at Bletchley Park said: “Our Learning activities bring the story of what happened here to life. We aim to help young people develop their problem solving and collaborative teamworking skills, as well as further their understanding of the impact of information technology on their lives today. It was wonderful to welcome HRH The Duchess of Cambridge to join in with some of our codebreaking activities and hear from school children why the story of D-Day matters to them.”
The Teleprinter Building restoration project has had additional generous support from The Linbury Trust, The Gosling Foundation, The Hobson Charity and The Wolfson Foundation.
D-Day: Interception, Intelligence, Invasion is open now. Entry to the exhibition is included with general admission tickets. Free family activities based on the exhibition will run in May and throughout the summer holidays.