Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Spy at Bletchley Park

Winston Churchill once described the people who worked during World War Two at Bletchley Park as "the geese that laid the golden eggs - but never cackled". This remained until the mid 1970s one of the best kept secrets of all time. Researchers have discovered couples who had worked at the codebreaking centre - who honoured the instruction not to reveal what they had done, to the extent that they never even talked about it to each other - and so did not know they they shared a common past.

But there was a Russian Spy who worked there. John Cairncross - the "fifth man" in the Cambridge spy ring. He worked in Hut 3 (the main reporting centre for all Enigma on German Army and Air Force communications). He had previously been private secretary to Lord Hankey, a member of the War Cabinet. Michael Smith described his esponiage in 'Station X'. - "Cairncross smuggled decrypts that were due to be destroyed out of Hut 3 in his trousers, transferring them to his bag at the (Bletchley) railway station before going on to London to meet his KGB contact"

Cairncross passed information which has been credited with helping the Russians to win the Battle of Kursk. A sanitised version had been supplied by the British to the Russians, but the source had been disguised.

The Independent's Obituary of Cairncross can be read here.

Bletchley Park contains a well stocked bookshop, which sells a number of books and monographs about the history of the codebreaking centre.