Statue of gay war hero unveiled

Tony Grew June 19, 2007
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Today at Bletchley Park a statue of Alan Turing, will be unveiled.

Turing was the inspirational mathematician at the heart of Bletchley Park’s codebreaking successes during World War II.

Before he died in January 2006, the late Mr Sidney E Frank, an American billionaire, commissioned the internationally renowned sculptor Mr Stephen Kettle to create a statue in memory of Alan Turing.

Kettle’s pioneering work led to the world’s first stacked slate statue, which is permanently housed in the Science Museum in London.

Turing’s homosexuality led to him being ostracised after the war and classed as a security risk.

He was convicted of homosexual offences in 1952 and killed himself two years later.

The one and a half ton, life-size statue of Alan Turing is made from approximately half a million individual pieces of five hundred million year old Welsh slate.

Alan Turing arrived at Bletchley Park in September 1939 and was soon pursuing his idea of building a machine that would break the Enigma key.

He became head of the small Naval Enigma team in Hut 8 and contributed greatly to the breaking of the German Naval Enigma by December 1939.

By August 1940, Turing, together with his friend and colleague, Gordon Welchman, had brought the idea of an Enigma codebreaking machine to fruition with the construction of the Turing-Welchman Bombe, which speeded up the process of breaking into the daily Enigma keys.

Historians agree that the work of the codebreakers at Bletchley Park effectively helped to shorten the war by two years, saving countless lives.

Although Alan Turing received the OBE for his wartime achievements, he died tragically in 1954 at the age of only 41, having received no public recognition of the colossal contribution he made to the outcome of the war and the computer age that was to follow.

Mr Simon Greenish, Director of Bletchley Park Trust, heralded the statue as a fitting and timely tribute to Turing.

He continued, “Alan Turing is universally recognised as the founding father of the modern computer and one of the pre-eminent unsung intellectual warriors of the twentieth century.

“With the help of the Sidney E Frank Foundation and the brilliance of sculptor, Stephen Kettle, Bletchley Park is now home to an exquisite and magnificent memorial to the genius of Turing.”

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