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Code-breaking From Room 40 to Berkeley Street and the Birth of GCHQ
Dimensions:6.1" x 9.2"
Item No. 9781399077453
Some of the individuals who played key roles in the success of Bletchley Park in reading the secret communications of Britain’s enemies during the Second World War have become well-known figures. However, the man who created and led the organization based there, from its inception in 1919 until 1942, has, surprisingly, been overlooked – until now. In 1914 Alastair Denniston, who had been teaching French and German at Osborne Royal Navy College, was one of the first recruits into the Admiralty’s fledgling codebreaking section which became known as Room 40. There a team drawn from a wide range of professions successfully decrypted intercepted German communications throughout the First World War.After the Armistice, Room 40 was merged with the British Army’s equivalent section – MI.1 – to form the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS). Initially based in London, from August 1939 GC&CS was largely located at Bletchley Park, with Alastair Denniston as its Operational Director.Denniston was moved in 1942 from military to civilian intelligence at Berkeley Street, London. Small at first, as Enigma traffic diminished towards the end of the Second World War, diplomatic and commercial codebreaking became of increasing importance and a vital part of Britain’s signal intelligence effort. GC&CS was renamed the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in June 1946, and moved to the outskirts of Cheltenham. It continues to be the UK’s signal intelligence gathering organization. With the support and assistance of the both the Denniston family and GCHQ, Joel Greenberg, author of Gordon Welchman, Bletchley Park’s Architect of Ultra Intelligence, has produced this absorbing story of Commander Alexander ‘Alastair’ Guthrie Denniston OBE, CBE, CMG, RNVR, a man whose death in 1961 was ignored by major newspapers and the very British intelligence organization that was his legacy.‘[Denniston was a] great man in whose debt all English-speaking people will remain for a very long time, if not for ever. That so few of them should know exactly what he did towards achievement of victory in World War I and II is the sad part of the untold story of his life and of his great contribution to that victory.’-William Friedman, The doyen of American cryptography‘One of the reasons for the success of Bletchley Park, and something that I and Alastair Denniston’s other successors have striven to maintain in GCHQ, is the organisation’s ability to make space to allow individuals to flourish, both in isolation, and within teams. He had already worked out that the forthcoming war and the profusion of mechanical encryption devices needed a new sort of cryptanalyst to complement the existing staff.’-Sir Ian Lobban, Director of GCHQ 2008 to 2014