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Hand-written notes by Alan Turing’s colleagues discovered at Bletchley Park

Joseph McCormick February 5, 2015
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Notes hand-written by Alan Turing’s fellow codebreakers, have been found at Bletchley Park, and will soon go on display at a museum.

Gay World War II codebreaker Alan Turing – often hailed as the grandfather of modern computing – was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ in 1952 after having sex with a man, and was chemically castrated, barred from working for GCHQ, and eventually driven to suicide.

The notes were written in pencil and crayon, and have survived nearly seven decades stuffed into the walls of the huts in which Turing worked to crack German military codes during World War II.

Bletchley Park’s Director of Learning and Collections, Victoria Worpole said: “These are actual handwritten pieces of codebreaking — workings out.”

“There are some pieces of paperwork that we can’t identify. Nobody seems to be able to work out what they are — we’ve sent things off to GCHQ — and there are a number of items that we’ve yet to understand properly. We’re unveiling a mystery.”

The notes, written not by Turing, but by the team he worked as part of, were frozen when they were discovered, to protect them from being damaged, but have been thawed out, cleaned and repaired.

They will go on display at the Bletchley Park museum in march. The museum has been renovated back to its 1940s design.

Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Turing in the recent biopic ‘The Imitation Game’, last month gave an impassioned speech about late gay codebreaker and computer genius.

Cumberbatch was accepting the ensemble cast award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival last night, for his portrayal of Turing in the feature film ‘The Imitation Game’.

He said: “Alan Turing was a war hero, he was a gay icon and he was and is the father of modern computing science. He is a man who died tragically early due to a Government that he helped free from fascism by his work in the Second World War in cracking the enigma code, rewarding him for his nature, for confessing to who he was as a gay man in a time of intolerance in the 1950s.”

Cumberbatch attracted criticism after he defended the absence of gay sex in the film, saying: “If you need to see that to understand that he’s gay, then all is lost for any kind of subtle storytelling. It’s not something that needed to be made obvious.”

However, The Sunday Times reported that there was indeed a sex scene involving Turing and another man present in early drafts – but it was mysteriously left out of the final version.

Despite the controversy, and only having a limited release in the US, the film made the second highest per-screen profit of 2014.

Related topics: Alan Turing, Bletchley Park

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