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8 May 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the Allies’ formal acceptance of the unconditional surrender of Germany’s armed forces. It was a momentous day that many Veterans remember clearly. For some Bletchley Park staff, however, Victory in Europe (VE) Day did not feel as significant. The war with Japan was not over and intelligence work needed to continue. Some veterans were also apprehensive about returning to civilian life after so many years in uniform. However, for many it was a time of relief that the war was over in Europe, and a realisation that soldiers who had survived the war would be returning home. Britain and the Allied countries could begin to rebuild and work on agreements, legislation and organisations to ensure peace for the foreseeable future. VE Day, for many, marked the end of wartime and the beginning of a new way of life.


This album was first published on 7 May 2020.

This handwritten document is the first page of a six-page W/T (wireless traffic) Red Form containing the terms of Germany’s surrender to the Allies. The surrender, signed at Reims in France, signified the end of European conflict in World War Two. The official text of the message, in English rather than German, was sent to the remnants of the Nazi government in Lüneburg, on the Danish-German border, by radio, carried partly on British wireless links. It was taken down on 7 May 1945 by George Curd, a Wireless Intercept Operator at Beaumanor Y Station who allegedly picked up the message while on ‘search’ duty. The document was donated by Henrietta ‘Netta’ Curd, George’s wife and also a Wireless Intercept Operator at Beaumanor, who did not know about the document for over 40 years.

The Brown Story was a daily diary of activity on the Brown Enigma network. Each message or piece of operator chatter was listed and paraphrased. The reports were produced at Bletchley Park, as indicated by the ‘ZIP’ serial, and initially classified as ‘Thumb’, the lowest security classification reserved for sigint (signals intelligence) derived from traffic analysis. However, from November 1944 ‘Ultra’ is used, indicating that the reports now included intelligence from high-grade decrypts. The reports tracked the final farewell messages as Allied troops advanced across Germany and the radio stations were captured one by one. The reports were typed up on or two days after the events described which is why this report dated 6 May 1945 is also titled ‘VE Day’.

A congratulatory message from Stewart Graham Menzies, MI6 chief and Director-General of the Government Code and Cypher School, thanking the staff for their contribution in helping to win the war. He states that he wants the staff to know of his ‘unbounded admiration in the way in which they have carried out their allotted tasks’. A number of copies of this message are in the Bletchley Park Trust archives. This particular copy was kept by Jane ‘Jean’ Hunter, a WAAF Wireless Operator/Morse Slip Reader based in Block E. It has been decorated with the various stamps used in her office. The message concludes with the sentence ‘this is your finest hour’, a very inspiring way to commemorate the achievements of the staff at Bletchley Park.

The reverse of the same Director-General message from the previous page is covered in signatures and good luck messages from the staff in Block E. This reveals the strong camaraderie amongst the staff at Bletchley Park. The message is presumed to be an office copy that was pinned to a notice board. Jean took it with her when she emigrated to Canada soon after the end of the war.

A photograph of a group of WAAFs (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) from Bletchley Park who travelled to Trafalgar Square on VE Day to celebrate. This image was kindly loaned by Mrs Margaret Rowland (nee Writer), back row second from the left. On VE Day, many Veterans and civilians travelled to London to celebrate the end of the war in Europe, in addition to the celebrations nationwide.

An extract from the diary of Constance M Thompson, a WAAF Sergeant in Block F, Air Section. She writes about going to the park in the morning and attending a Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) dance in the evening on VE Day despite having been on the previous night shift. Her celebrations continued the next day as she had a “super time” at another party at the NAAFI on the following evening.

A white scarf embroidered with the signatures of Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS, or Wren) Typex Operators, donated by Jeanne Templeton who worked in Block D from March 1944 until May 1945. The scarf is an emblem of the camaraderie of the Wrens who had worked together as a team. The scarf names Wavendon House, one of several country houses near Bletchley which provided residential accommodation for ‘Wrens’.

A page from the autograph book of Josephine Minna Emilie Hatter (nee Lewington), a Wren based at Eastcote and Gayhurst Manor outstations from November 1943 until May 1945. She was then moved to Bletchley Park itself from June to October 1945, working on indexing and filing. This page states ‘on the day before V. E. day – let’s pat ourselves on the back’, a fitting way to reflect on the significant work achieved in World War Two.

Caroline Shearer (nee West) worked at Bletchley Park from January 1942 until August 1945. A WAAF Teleprinter Operator and Morse Slip Reader, she later became a Watch Supervisor. She recalls, ‘I remember the sudden crashing silence when the deafening noise ceased, and we first realised the War was over. Only then did I get to the real RAF camp, with real airplanes and airmen, I had asked for in 1941! I have been married to one of those airmen, who was flying those airplanes, for over 50 years’.

A letter from John Herivel who was one of the talented mathematicians recruited early in the war and stayed at Bletchley Park from January 1940 until October 1945. His discovery of the ‘Herivel Tip’ in 1940 had made a key contribution to breaking army/air Enigma, but by the end of the war Herivel had moved to the Newmanry, the section which employed machines to break the even tougher Lorenz cipher. Dated 10 July 1945, Herivel thanks his team for their work and wishes them “Good Luck and Goodbye”. Though reminding the staff at Bletchley Park of the Official Secrets Act, he acknowledges the vital work they did and, with remarkable foresight, suggests that one day in the future their story would be told.

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