Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Grand Day Out

Stephen and I have been on a coach trip today to Bletchley Park, the code-breaking centre from the Second World War. It's near Milton Keynes. We went with the British Computer Society. I didn't tell any of them that my rule is only to learn one new button a year. I thought it was best to keep that one quiet.

It was a fascinating day out.

One of the things I learned today was that during the War Britain had a clutch of interesting double agents whose job was generally to fool the Nazis by pretending, for example, that the D-Day landings were going to happen in an entirely different place from where they actually did.

These double agents set up a whole team of entirely fictitious sub-agents who - quite fittingly - sent entirely fictitious reports back to Nazi Germany of Britain's supposed war plans.

What's more, the double agent got the Nazis to pay a salary to each of them and here's a list from 1945:

The thing I especially liked was that, having told the Nazis that Agent Four - who didn't actually exist - was ill, the double agent who had supposedly hired these sub-agents, also hired an entirely fictitious man to clear fictitious snow from the fictitious house of the fictitious Agent Four, and then charged the Nazis for the fictitious man to do it.

Glorious! Makes me proud to be British.

I'll be telling you more about Bletchley Park, I warn you now. Fantastic.


Anonymous Oliver said...


9:56 pm  
Blogger Michael said...

The truth was somewhat grimmer. Reading the codebreaker Leo Marks' book about how the British lost every single one of the many agents they parachuted into Holland. The Gestapo did the same thing as here - invented a huge network of agents, pretending they were all alive when they'd actually been executed or sent to Dachau. The spy chiefs at MI5 or whatever it was called in those days just wouldn't listen to Marks' warnings.

10:10 am  

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