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Amidst the long shifts and hard work taking place at Bletchley Park relationships still blossomed and often led to long, and happy, marriages. Although bound by secrecy not to disclose any information about their work, many couples who saw each other only occasionally on site could still meet outside work hours at dances or arrange to spend their free time together in the gardens of Woburn Abbey. In an environment where women outnumbered men quite considerably, the competition was sometimes on to find an eligible bachelor. However, in the backdrop of war the uncertain future of any relationship was ever present and sometimes made for a bittersweet romance.
The Bletchley Park Roll of Honour lists all those believed to have worked in signals intelligence during World War Two, at Bletchley Park and other locations. Search the Roll of Honour to find out more about each Veteran in this Collections uncovered.


This album was first published on 14 February 2020.

WAAF Eleanor Milnes was a Morse Slip Reader while at Bletchley Park. In September 1945 she married Edward Fell, an Army Sergeant. Here the couple stand outside the church in Ilkeston on their wedding day. Eleanor wears a horseshoe and wooden spoons round her waist. The horseshoe is a symbol of good luck often seen at weddings, and the wooden spoon was traditionally given to a bride to help her prepare good food for her husband.

Eleanor and Ted Fell received several telegrams congratulating them on their wedding. Two telegrams came from Bletchley, one wishing them best wishes for the future, and this telegram addressed to “Mr & Mrs Newlyweds” which was sent to Eleanor and Ted in Nottingham where they stayed before their wedding in Derbyshire. It’s likely that one of Eleanor’s colleagues from Bletchley sent the couple this message: “Congratulations on your new journey”.

Bombe Operator Jessie Morgan (Jones) received this Valentine’s Day card from an admirer in Dundee in 1943. Jessie was billeted at Walton Hall, just outside Bletchley. The message inside the card reads “You’ve collared this heart of mine, my own sweet Valentine!”

Sylvia Dorothy Mitchell (Forbes-Harper) married Peter Forbes-Harper after VJ Day. Sylvia was a Modified Typex Operator and Shift Leader at Bletchley Park. She and Peter wrote letters to each other regularly. Peter was posted to Cairo, Egypt so like many couples Peter and Sylvia were separated for much of the war. After three years of separation, Peter is becoming impatient and tells Sylvia that he wants to marry her at the earliest convenience. In this excerpt, from a letter dated just before VE Day, Peter says that he would like a new photograph of Sylvia; “because it does help a little to bring you a little closer to me, specially when I know it has only been taken a few weeks back.”

In this letter Sylvia writes to Peter in eager anticipation of his return. Written just after VJ Day when Sylvia had left Bletchley Park, it was only a matter of weeks before Peter would return home from Cairo to marry Sylvia. However, the wedding arrangements didn’t go quite as smoothly as the couple would have liked. Peter’s departure from Egypt was delayed which meant that the wedding had to be postponed for several days. After many years of wartime turmoil, the couple married in September 1945 in London.

On 27 December 1941, Alan Michell and Glenys Davies tied the knot at St Andrews Church in Dinas Powys, Wales. Alan was posted to Bletchley Park at around the same time and brought his new wife to stay locally at the gatehouse of Liscombe Park. While living there Glenys gave birth to their first child, attended by Lady Bonsor of Liscombe Park.

While on leave from her role in Block D at Bletchley Park in 1944, Elizabeth Louise Varnham met her future husband John Frame. Soon after their meeting, John was posted to Delhi, India, working in the Cypher Section. The pair wrote to each other until John was demobbed in early 1946. Elizabeth stayed at Bletchley Park after VJ Day and in this letter to John written in October 1945 she explains that she has been to a very jolly farewell dance and that she’s sure he doesn’t mind her going out to a party because; “there is no one but you Johnny. You are the one I dream about, and want to spend the rest of my life with”. The reality of wartime relationships is highlighted later in the letter when Elizabeth explains her fear that something might have happened to John when his regular letters were delayed due to a storm for almost a week. Happily, John and Elizabeth were married in Spring 1946 in Elizabeth’s hometown of Meopham, Kent.

James ‘Jimmy’ Thirsk met his wife Irene Joan Watkins at Bletchley Park and the pair married in summer 1945 after VE Day. Jimmy had seen Joan around and knew she worked in the Fusion Room, but it wasn’t until much later when they were both billeted at the Shenley Road camp that they finally met. Jimmy recalls their first meeting; “She was a Sergeant and I was a Sergeant Major at that time and we were in the Sergeants’ Mess, where there was a lot more fraternising.” Jimmy also remembers that Bletchley Park had quite a relaxed approach to couples who were stepping-out.

Barbarie Malim (Rowntree) was working in Hut 4 when she got married. As part of Naval Section she worked under the direction of Frank Birch and Walter Ettinghausen. Both Birch and Ettinghausen have signed this makeshift congratulatory greeting card from colleagues wishing Barbarie “love and best wishes for your future happiness”. Written on very fragile wartime paper, with a government seal used to create a decorative bow, this is a rare survivor from the archive.

Helene Lovie Taylor (Aldwinckle) worked at Bletchley Park from 1942 primarily in Hut 6. Helene married John Aldwinckle in February 1945. She remembers heading down to London to celebrate VE Day with her new husband. John had been with an RAF special duties squadron, dropping SOE agents, and had only just arrived back in England a couple of days before VE Day.

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