Saturday, 4 April 2020

Bletchley Park activities revealed in unique footage

Silent film reel shows staff connected to Bletchley Park for first time

As the period of the Second World War slips further back into the mists of time, so remarkable discoveries like this never-before seen footage of intelligence workers at a Bletchley Park satellite station are both ever more historically important and perhaps (hopefully?) the start of more of the same appearing, as the period of the Official Secrets Act that covered the work done at Bletchley comes closer to its end.  It is perhaps telling that this fantastic material was donated anonymously, which to my mind suggests that it was the original owner (or someone closely connected to them), who magnanimously gave it to the Bletchley Park Trust - perhaps feeling that enough time had passed that it could be handed on with a clear conscience.

That it was made at all is extraordinary given the top-secret nature of the work carried out at the site, the blanket ban on cameras and the oath of secrecy that all the workers were sworn to and which, if you see or read interviews with surviving members, they still feel honour-bound to keep nearly 80 years on.

In spite of this it seems to me that whoever took this footage clearly wanted to document what little they could of life as a code-breaker during the war.  Although much of it is of a frivolous nature and nothing is really given away, the fact that it features several fellow workers including some in official uniform to me belies the suggestion that it would have been seriously frowned upon had it been discovered at the time.  In it I see a group of people, very much aware of the importance of what they are doing, wanting to preserve what they could of their daily lives at Whaddon Hall for posterity.  The fact that expensive and hard to come by colour film is used in parts, I feel, supports this theory. 

As I said at the beginning of this post, it is to be hoped that more finds like this will be unearthed in the future to provide an even more tangible link to a significant and pivotal time in our history and in this case add further to the amazing story of the "Ultra" code-breakers based at these sites.  I am certainly looking forward to see the augmented film with subtitles once it becomes available, as to see what was being said as well will only add to the immediacy of this astonishing footage.

1 comment:

  1. It'd be interesting to see more secret films of the Allies, and maybe even the others. The historical record would be fantastic.


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