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Stolen artefacts belonging to gay World War Two hero Alan Turing to finally be returned to the UK

Nick Duffy November 9, 2020
Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a gay man, a scientist and a war hero. (Getty)

Stolen items belonging to gay computing genius and codebreaking hero Alan Turing are to be returned to the UK after decades.

The haul of 17 items include five rare photographs of the Bletchley Park codebreaker, who is widely credited with helping to bring World War Two to an early end, as well as his PhD diploma, school reports, OBE medal and a signed letter from King George VI.

The items were gifted by the Turing family to Sherborne School in Dorset in 1965, after the mathematician was convicted under anti-gay laws and hounded to death.

Items were taken from school attended by codebreaking hero.

They were held in a historical archive at the private boarding school for more than two decades, but court papers allege they were illegally removed by Julie Schwinghamer in 1984 and taken to her home in the US.

Schwinghamer later changed her name to Julie Turing, and began falsely claiming to be a relative of the late mathematician. The ruse was uncovered in 2018 after she offered to loan the items to the University of Colorado.

WWII codebreaker Alan Turing
World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency for consensual homosexual sex in 1952 (Creative Commons)

As reported by the BBC, the United States District Court for the district of Colorado has now granted a forfeiture order for the seizure of the items, which are expected to be returned to Sherbourne School.

Once returned, the school says they will be restored to its collection, and made available to view in person or via the school archives website.

‘I only wish the best for legacy of Alan Turing’, claims woman who removed items

In her court appearance last month, Julie Turing said: “I am giving up my collection to be handed over to England because I do not want to keep anything from England against their will out of selfishness.

“I wish only the very best for the legacy of Alan Turing, that his belongings, I have had the privilege to be gifted and kept in my presence all these years and deeply cherished throughout my life with the very best of care that I could provide, may now… be handed over to the rest of the world to see and also admire as I did. That is my wish.”

Sherborne School archivist Rachel Hassall confirmed to the BBC that the school had been informed by Homeland Security Investigations that the items would be returned “in due course”.

She said: “We are sorry that by removing the material from the school archives Ms Turing has denied generations of pupils and researchers the opportunity to consult it.”

Turing was confirmed last year as the new face of the £50 note, due to enter circulation by the end of 2021.

More: Alan Turing, Bletchley Park, Codebreaker, Colorado, Dorset, Julie Schwinghamer, King George VI, Remembrance Day, Second World War, World War Two

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