Class 4 Visit Station X
Last week we were delighted to have the opportunity to visit Bletchley Park – or Station X to give it its wartime codename. We have been studying World War Two in History this term so the trip was a great opportunity to learn more about this this fascinating period.
Our trip began with a guided tour. Our guide was very knowledgeable and really made Bletchley during the war period come to life. He answered all our questions and we learned loads of interesting facts. Did you know, for example, that 75 % of the workforce at Bletchley Park was female? And that some codebreakers were recruited when they managed to solve a cryptic crossword in a national newspaper?
After our tour, it was time to try our hand at codebreaking. We participated in a workshop where we used Morse code to pinpoint the location of U-Boats in the Atlantic. We all worked really hard at this and relished the challenge. We were also given the opportunity to see and touch a real Enigma machine. This was a real privilege! As you may know, the Enigma machine was used by the German armed forces to send messages to each other during the war. They considered the code unbreakable as it was a cipher with at least 150 million million million possible combinations. The settings were changed every day at midnight giving the Allies only a day to crack the code before they had to start from scratch. Bletchley codebreakers Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman led a team who designed the Bombe machine. This machine was instrumental in breaking the Enigma code.
After lunch, we were given the chance to explore Bletchley by ourselves. Highlights included Hut 8, where we saw Alan Turing’s office – including his coffee mug which he liked to keep chained to the radiator! We also saw a replica of the Bombe machine in Hut 11a and enjoyed some interactive displays in the exhibition.
We had a really fantastic day. One of our Year 5 children said, “It was fabulous. I liked seeing the Enigma machine in the workshop. I was allowed to type in the word ‘hello’. When I pressed each letter it came out as a different letter. I was amazed it worked so well after all that time!” While a Year 6 child enthused, “I had a really great time at Bletchley Park. My favourite part was seeing the Bombe machine in Hut 11a because it was really fun to see one and find out how it worked.”