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R15 Additional Maths Groups visit to Bletchley Park

As part of the enrichment provision at St John’s College, a group of R15 students who are currently studying Additional Mathematics as an extra-curricular activity in the Mathematics Department, visited the world famous Bletchley Park – “The home of the Code Breakers”.  They were accompanied by Miss Owen, Mrs Minton, Dr Howells and Mr Turner.

Once ‘Britain’s Best Kept Secret’, today Bletchley Park is a heritage site and vibrant tourist attraction.  The students explored some of the iconic WW2 codebreaking huts and blocks and marveled at the astonishing achievements of the codebreakers whose work is said to have helped shorten the war by two years.

The arrival of ‘Captain Ridley’s Shooting Party’ at a mansion house in the Buckinghamshire countryside in late August 1938 was to set the scene for one of the most remarkable stories of World War Two. They had an air of friends enjoying a relaxed weekend together at a country house. They even brought with them one of the best chefs at the Savoy Hotel to cook their food, however, the small group of people who turned up at Bletchley Park were far from relaxed. They were members of MI6, and the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), a secret team of individuals including a number of scholars turned codebreakers. Their job; to see whether Bletchley Park would work as a wartime location, well away from London, for intelligence activity by GC&CS as well as elements of MI6.

Bletchley Park was strategically placed with regard to communications and situated approximately mid-way between Oxford and Cambridge universities (where many of the top mathematicians of the time were based).

The students spent time looking at the old and very well-maintained buildings and artefacts as well as enjoying a very interesting lecture on basic code breaking. Best of all, was the chance to actually use (everyone pressed a button) an original ENIGMA machine.

It was a long journey to and from Milton Keynes, but well worth it, and as usual, the students of St John’s College conducted themselves in an appropriate manner with assured confidence and polite behaviour.

Miss Owen

4 November 2016

Senior School News