Decoding The Past

GCHQ HISTORIAN TONY COMER ON BLETCHLEY PARK’S LEGACY

Sat on the top floor of the Bletchley Park mansion, in the room next to where MI6 set up Station X at the start of World War II, we met with Tony Comer from GCHQ (Government Communication Headquarters).

Tony is GCHQ’s historian and a world expert on the Bletchley Park story. Whilst talking with him it was immediately obvious how important the work of Bletchley Park was to ending the war, but also how much that legacy had endured and resonates into today’s modern technologically advanced world.

Tony explained that GCHQ needs a historian as technology moves so rapidly that the organisation needs to be able to keep hold of its foundations, that knowing about what happened in the past lets the analysts understand what is important today. Newly recruited analysts are still given the opportunity to visit Bletchley during their first six months in the organisation which most do, to learn about the extraordinary work that went on there during the war years.

He explained why Bletchley Park was chosen as a location for the Signals Intelligence (Sigint) base. During the inter-war years the Government Code and Cipher School (GC&CS), GCHQ’s predecessor, was located within MI6 in London, with around 200 staff.

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