back to article Watch: Rare Second World War footage of Bletchley Park-linked MI6 intelligence heroes emerges, shared online

An astonishingly rare film documenting British intelligence personnel, linked to the code-breakers at Bletchley Park, has been released by the park's trust, offering a glimpse of unsung heroes who helped win the Second World War. The 11-minute silent film, a compilation of black-and-white and color clips from 1939 through 1945 …

  1. Detective Emil
    Thumb Up

    4:3

    Good on BP for not reframing the footage (unlike the BBC.)

  2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Fortunes and Silent Fame in the Novel Era with Back Room Bods and AI Boffinry ...

    ...... Gone Wild and Renegade Rogue Apache Native

    Can you imagine what modern day Bletchley Park type heroes and heroines are into nowadays in these days of 0days and systemic vulnerabilities to relentlessly exploit and expand upon and export for profit and/or kudos ‽ .

    Such appears to be a pretty universal language which most all systems admins understand and adhere to in order to ensure a certainly unfair, politically incorrect overwhelming advantage.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Fortunes and Silent Fame in the Novel Era with Back Room Bods and AI Boffinry ...

      With particular peculiar regard to the question ..... "Can you imagine what modern day Bletchley Park type heroes and heroines are into nowadays in these days of 0days and systemic vulnerabilities to relentlessly exploit and expand upon and export for profit and/or kudos ‽ ." ...... does all available evidence suggest most everybody haven't a fcuking clue ........ and that delivers an overpowering strength and incredibly stealthy opportunity for any of those others who have and further develop their programs and protocols for novel and not entirely ignoble projects in a time of spaces and places hosting pandemics and many other other crazy episodes.

      And what do imagine is done whenever presented with the narrow choice of further development along the lines of IT's Use as a Super-Bombe or Source of Power? ......

      The research from the MAUD committee was compiled in two reports, commonly known as the MAUD reports in July 1941. The first report, "Use of Uranium for a Bomb", discussed the feasibility of creating a super-bomb from uranium, which they now thought to be true. The second, "Use of Uranium as a Source of Power" discussed the idea of using uranium as a source of power, not just a bomb. The MAUD Committee and report helped bring about the British nuclear program, the Tube Alloys Project. Not only did it help start a nuclear project in Britain but it helped jump-start the American project. Without the help of the MAUD Committee the American program, the Manhattan Project, would have started months behind. Instead they were able to begin thinking about how to create a bomb, not whether it was possible.[40] Historian Margaret Gowing noted that "events that change a time scale by only a few months can nevertheless change history." .... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tube_Alloys

      What do you think any intelligent human would do? Deny it possible and declare it improbable and in so doing seal their fate to be just as an ignorant paying spectator of the Greatest Shows on Earth? :-)

      And the answer to that is a definite Yes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fortunes and Silent Fame in the Novel Era with Back Room Bods and AI Boffinry ...

      Now, I know I'm going to get downvoted for my lack of Internet paranoia, but some of us have had dealings with these guys within relatively recent times and can vouch that they are a pretty normal bunch. That is to say, some carry 1,024-core 256-bit CPUs with 500 PB memories in their heads, some cannot tell their arse from their elbow (these are often the managers who stick their arse on your desk right next to your elbow, while you are trying to get some real work done). Some are career bureaucrats of the dullest kind, some are plain nasty, some are quiet heroes. Some save countless lives with their due diligence, some occasionally get fired for snooping on their ex-es. Some are government employees, some embedded contractors, but that makes little difference to personal habits. They are all ruled with a rod of iron by a legal team who sometimes get things spectacularly wrong (who doesn't) but usually do a dam' good job of herding cats. AFAIK the nearest anybody got to profiteering was selling bespoke shirts to their colleagues as a sideline for a while - strictly off-system. Does international spying go on? Shock! Horror! These are the heirs of Bletchley Park, can somebody remind me what their job was?

      Even as I write, some will be avidly watching the footage on their workstations, with or without permission, others will be yawning mightily and going for another big-brand franchised coffee.

      Hi all, long time no see, keep up the good work. Daren't sign this in case one of your fave cnuts in Security decides I just broke the Official Secrets Act and has nothing better to do during lockdown.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Fortunes and Silent Fame in the Novel Era with Back Room Bods and AI Boffinry ...

        They are all ruled with a rod of iron by a legal team ... ...... Anonymous Coward

        That's SHTFTerritory ...... and the beginning of where everything went not right and wrong, AC.

        A simple change of legal team rulers changes that unsatisfactory picture immediately ..... for it appears they act as slaves primarily at the whim and bequest and behest of others.

        Such Practically Guarantees Almighty Righteous Revolution when and where such as is Slavery is Practised and Exported. And who would want and/or warrant that wild card delivering barbarians to your door?

        Oh and ..... can you break the Official Secrets Act if whenever you haven't signed it? :-) Just asking for a friend :-)

        1. Cliff Thorburn

          Re: Fortunes and Silent Fame in the Novel Era with Back Room Bods and AI Boffinry ...

          “Oh and ..... can you break the Official Secrets Act if whenever you haven't signed it? :-) Just asking for a friend :-)“

          If even a minuscule amount of Joe Public knew what great game, backroom, boardroom shenanigans and wagers on sp00ky spread betting, and taxpayer funded eerie exponential learnings on great games-playing antics, CO V ID 19 would be the least shocking revelation in the world domination playbook would IT not?

          I have to ask the same question as your friend btw, not that many would/could comprehend such even if one had the will, or patience to explain such exploits ....

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fortunes and Silent Fame in the Novel Era with Back Room Bods and AI Boffinry ...

          @aclownfrommars or whatever you call yourself.

          They are forbidden to defend themselves in public. Allow me to give you the gist.

          What you get to see is the gutter press version, shorn of all truth that gets in the way of paranoia and scandal. Yet you are too dumb to figure - no, that's probably wrong, you are too bigoted to admit it.

          I have some fish, a barrel of water and a gun which you may borrow any time you need to vent your wish for superiority.

          You will find the downvote arrow bottom right.

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: Fortunes and Silent Fame in the Novel Era with Back Room Bods and AI Boffinry ...

            It's always fun to watch someone argue with a bot :)

            1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
              Windows

              Re: Fortunes and Silent Fame in the Novel Era with Back Room Bods and AI Boffinry ...

              He must be new here...

            2. Youngone

              Re: Fortunes and Silent Fame in the Novel Era with Back Room Bods and AI Boffinry ...

              To be fair, amanfromMars1 has been running better since I asked the BOFH to reboot him yesterday.

              He got a bit incomprehensible there for a while.

          2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: Fortunes and Silent Fame in the Novel Era with Back Room Bods and AI Boffinry ...

            They are forbidden to defend themselves in public ..... Anonymous Coward

            Such begs the questions .... Forbidden by whom or what? And does that render them easily cuckolded, AC ..... for that is at least a national security threat and enjoyably exploitable vulnerability?

  3. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

    Geoffrey Pidgeon

    Really good book by Geoffrey Pidgeon "The Secret Wireless War", detailing a lot of what went on at Whaddon Hall - the intercepts, black/grey propaganda, dirty tricks, counter espionage, building clandestine wireless sets for use in occupied territories, etc.

    Fascinating reading for those interested in such things.

    ISBN 1-84375-252-2

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Thank you, El Reg

    Amazing to look at these people, long dead, that had such an impact on my life. I think Bletchley Park was just as important as the Manhattan Project.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Thank you, El Reg

      Amazing to look at these people, long dead, that had such an impact on my life. I think Bletchley Park was just as important as the Manhattan Project. .... Gene cash

      Some would tell you, instrumental, GC, however that be quite incidental and inconsequential in relation to Present Matters Presenting Bletchley Park/Manhattan Project Type ChICQ Interests to Relevant Authorities.

      1. Mike Shepherd
        Meh

        Re: Thank you, El Reg

        I think something is lost in the translation from Martian.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thank you, El Reg

      So was the Radiation Laboratory in the US that did so much to improve radar. The fact is that the Manhattan Project had no effect on the outcome of the War; it might have shortened the war against Japan a bit but it has to be seen against the Soviet Union's rapid advance across Manchuria. Bletchley Park and the Rad Lab had a direct effect at critical phases of the war - as critical as Stalingrad or Coral Sea/Midway.

      1. Elsmarc

        Re: Thank you, El Reg

        It should be noted that the 2 atomic bombs dropped were different types. Part of the reason to drop 2 was to compare the two types. I forget the differences, though. If I remember correctly... Getting old, Memory fading.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: Thank you, El Reg

          Hiroshima was Uranium, and basically a tube with two sub-critical sized piece at each end that were brought together with explosives.

          The Trinity test & Nagasaki bomb were Plutonium using a far more complicated arrangement of precisely designed firing explosives where a single spherical sub-critical mass was squeezed into 'critical'.

          A lot of nuclear physics & material design is required to make either model work effectively.

          1. harmjschoonhoven
            Boffin

            Re: Thank you, El Reg

            That is why the Trinity test in the Alamogordo desert in New Mexico on July 16 1945 5:30 MWT was the first man-made (*) nuclear explosion.

            (*) Artificial in contrast to natural nuclear explosions like supernovæ which are a phenomenon of a different order.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Thank you, El Reg

          The other part of the reason was that the uranium bomb was guaranteed to work (so long as it didn't go off prematurely) and was used first. Then they wanted to see how much damage the plutonium bomb did to actual people.

          The work of Bletchley Park and the Rad Lab reduced the damage caused by the war as well as shortening it. Dropping nuclear bombs on Japan was partly about showing how tough Truman was, and partly about preventing the USSR from being the belligerent that came in last and ended the war with Japan.

        3. Tim99 Silver badge

          Re: Thank you, El Reg

          Before The Manhattan Project: The UK Tube Alloys programme - (Wikipedea Link) - Gives quite a lot of the early background.

        4. Public Citizen

          Re: Thank you, El Reg

          It's also not widely known as the information was only declassified within the last five years that Truman had authorized the use of up to seven Atomic Bombs against Japan, should it be necessary.

          The USA didn't have the material to make that many bombs available except as a one-at-a-time hand built production.

          What finally broke the Japanese Military was the Soviets declaring war on Japan, combined with the Emperor demanding that the destruction end.

      2. Grinning Bandicoot

        Soviet Army in Manchuria

        This month in Naval History (US) there are articles about Operation Iceberg ,the invasion of Okinawa. Several items were noted one being the loss of 12 ships influenced Truman to authorize the use of the Atomic Bomb as the Soviets were hemming and hawing about when Soviet Army in Mongolia would be released. The use of the bomb surprised Stalin who then released the Soviets against a Japanese Army that had lost to them in 1939. The race was to get into position to be a occupying power in Japan. If interested in more the book 'Hell to Pay' contains information on Operation Olympic. At this time I do not recall the name of the book from Japanese sources about the final days before the surrender and the Japanese government's effort to have Moscow deal with the US. But surprisingly Bletchley Park also provided information on the Japanese government

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: Soviet Army in Manchuria

          IT was/is all about capturing and priming/inventing and presenting a leading apocalyptic narrative, Grinning Bandicoot, which does not necessarily need to be widely known, just ably supported by a desperate few.

          However, such right dodgy pathetic spin which cannot suffer simple deep forensic investigation and would contort and confound itself to try and bury the truth from discovery, is no longer a viable option for effective deployment and population command and control.

          And that creates and guarantees, in fields and jurisdictions which pimp and pump such conditioning tales, stealthy deadly opposition and intangible revolutionary activity, which is shared here as a question for the cold false comfort which any disagreeable denial may supply?

          Planet Earth has new existential drivers/private pirate policy owners/wannabe invincible imperial leaders and their practical form is ethereal in nature and therefore they and their forces and sources are virtually untouchable.

          What do you think of all of that? Fabulous Fiction or Fantastic Fact? Or do you prefer the Quantum Communication Root Boot which has both perfectly true and something else quite different and novel too.

          1. Mike Shepherd
            Meh

            Re: Soviet Army in Manchuria

            You haven't had your tablet today, have you? Have your tablet.

            1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

              Re: Soviet Army in Manchuria

              First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. .... Mahatma Gandhi

              Howdy, MS,

              What intermediate or tertiary stage are you stuck at and in ? The laughing, the crying or the submitting to the incontrovertible for a quantum leap bound into that which is found ?

              Guess which one is the only one really worth anything to everybody and anybody and anybody media hosts /pimps and pumps as a somebody championing a certain, usually quite narrow, and mostly extremely shallow, indentured celebrity servant status.

              1. Michael Maxwell

                Re: Soviet Army in Manchuria

                I believe what he's saying is that you don't seem to be able to put an English sentence together. That is, while you jumble English words up, they don't make any sense together. (Or as someone put it above, the translator from Martian to English doesn't appear to be working very well.)

                1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

                  Re: Soviet Army in Manchuria @ Michael Maxwell

                  Message received and understood, MM. Adjustments are being made most probably even as we speak.

                  Thanks for the input/feedback/output.

        2. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: Soviet Army in Manchuria

          Stalin had agents in both the US & UK monitoring the bomb development progress, The only surprise would be that the scientists were accurate when they spoke of 10,000+ times the force of TNT, He and every other leader would have been happy at a mere 100 times TNT, we can be extremely grateful that it wasn't only 100x as they'd have been used like normal munitions from the start before all the long term effects were discovered.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Soviet Army in Manchuria

          The USSR invasion of Manchuria started on 9th August, as agreed at Yalta, three days after the Hiroshima bomb. The Nagasaki bomb was detonated on the 9th.

          I don't think anybody is foolish enough to think the USSR was able to mobilise an invasion force in three days. The speed of their invasion shows that Stalin was hardly surprised - everything was in place and ready to go.

          As for Okinawa, it was an unnecessary operation that was subsequently used as an excuse for dropping the bombs, arguing that the strength of Japanese resistance repeated on the mainland would result in enormous casualties. George Feifer's book on Okinawa is interesting, but so too is this response to an attack on Feifer.

          1. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Soviet Army in Manchuria

            Yup, though if I may, your wording is a little misleading: Soviet invasion date was three months after the end of the European war, as agreed at Yalta. That it was three days after Hiroshima was coincidental.

          2. Lars Silver badge

            Re: Soviet Army in Manchuria

            I think Perer Kuznick and Oliver Stone get the logic behind the bombs right here.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBDG2NeiZ6c

  5. Richard Parkin

    Not filmed secretively ...

    Much has been made of the banning of cameras at these places but these people are clearly aware they are being filmed so one wonders how much more photographic record there may be out there?

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Not filmed secretively ...

      My guess is there is enough (highest level secret) official film & documents buried in the archives to allow the whole operation to be rebuilt from scratch by any group of maths & engineering graduates without any prior knowledge.

      Film is also a very effective way of explaining to politicians (who can't engineer their way out of a paper bag) why X billions need to be spent on a secret project.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Not filmed secretively ...

      The fact that it is filmed so openly and the footage having been release 75 years after war end suggests it might have been official.

      1. Richard Parkin

        Re: Not filmed secretively ...

        And many are speaking, need some lip readers here!

  6. W Donelson

    Astonishing and wonderful. I started programming in 1969, and knew of much of the early coding done there.

  7. Martin an gof Silver badge

    Surprises keep coming

    I am sure there are many stories which have been lost as their owners kept their promise to the Official Secrets act to the very end. One which just survived was that of my childhood piano teacher - a lady from semi-rural West(ish) Wales, married to a Baptist minister who was a conscientious objector - who only revealed to family and friends a couple of years before her death that she had spent her war in Hut Six at Bletchley Park. I wasn't even aware that she - a first-language Welsh speaker - was also fluent in German.

    One of her sons worked with her to publish a book (and ebook) of her memories, which is very readable. Goodness, she even has a Wikipedia page!

    M.

  8. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Sad state of video sharing

    A historically important film is digitized and shared to the world via YouTube, which then cranks up compression until it has motion artifacts like an old CD-ROM game.

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Sad state of video sharing

      Try changing the resolution in the video player. Mine played at 720p after I changed the settings.

      I didn't recognize any of them, but then my relatives who served in WWII only served in the Pacific Theatre and were unlikely to have photos from England.

  9. John Robson Silver badge

    Rare...

    I'm not sure rare quite covers the scarcity of material from this era of such a famous institution.

    The secrecy surrounding, and permeating, the operations at the time must make this virtually unique - it is the only known footage, it wouldn't be that much of a surprise if it was the only remaining footage.

  10. Waseef

    It would be amazing if our history wasn’t riddled with fake stories and only the actual truth. I always wonder what would happen if we knew everything that happened during wars. Now, we only have critical thinking.

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