Code-Breakers: Bletchley Park's Lost Heroes

BBC HD Series 1 Episode 1
First broadcast 25th November 2011, 21:00
Duration: 59:46
Documentary that reveals the secret story behind one of the greatest intellectual feats of World War II, a feat that gave birth to the digital age. In 1943, a 24-year-old maths student and a GPO engineer combined to hack into Hitler's personal super-code machine - not Enigma but an even tougher system, which he called his 'secrets writer'. Their break turned the Battle of Kursk, powered the D-day landings and orchestrated the end of the conflict in Europe. But it was also to be used during the Cold War - which meant both men's achievements were hushed up and never officially recognised.

Clips from this programme

Introduction: Mathematician Bill Tutte pulled off the greatest intellectual feat of World War Two, and GPO Engineer Tommy Flowers turned Tutte's ideas into the 'world's first computer'. Backed by the brightest talents of Bletchley Park the machine that resulted was NOT Enigma but something far more significant, probably shortening the war by a couple of years and saving millions of lives

Duration: 01:42

Bletchley Park, MI6, Alan Turing and Enigma: Alan Turing was one of the 3 heroes of Bletchley Park, Bill Tutte who broke the Tunny system and Tommy Flowers who built Colossus, the other two (Captain Jerry Roberts, former Cryptographer at Bletchley Park)'the first computer ever'. (Professor Jack Copeland, Author of 'Colossus: The secrets of Bletchley Park's Codebreaking Computers'), Station X

Duration: 02:04

Station X: 1939-The start of Bletchley's code-breaking history learning the enemy's secrets, Tunny in particular, the Testery. Captain Jerry Roberts, former Cryptographer at Bletchley Park, re-visits Bletchley

Duration: 02:17

World War Two and the mobility of enemy armies relied on radio technology that could be intercepted if decoded: Tunny / Lorenz encoding was Hitler's secret writer. ENIGMA preceded Tunny/Lorenz

Duration: 01:25

The Enigma machine used from the early days and throughout the 2nd World War with German Morse messages. Listening posts then heard a new coding machine with teleprinter data

Duration: 02:26

Mathematicians brought in to Bletchley for Enigma. Hitler's demand for more security lead to the Tunny / Lorenz system needing less human operators, too. The Lorenz SZ40 / Tunny; Twelve wheels equalling 1.6 billion combinations. Teleprinter code, zeros and ones, highly encrypted

Duration: 04:18

The principle of encoding/ decoding via Lorenz / Tunny (EOR, exclusive ORs) demonstration

Duration: 02:31

Bill Tutte, his background (born in Newmarket), Trinity College, Cambridge, Bletchley from 1941 not chosen by Turing to work on the Enigma project, Bletchley: Research and Development

Duration: 02:24

Lorenz / Tunny: The Breakthrough: Depth needed, a message sent with the same key (Captain Jerry Roberts, former Cryptographer at Bletchley Park)(Michael Smith, Author of 'The Secrets of Station X'), John Tiltman (One of the best codebreakers in the 2nd world war) realised that there was a method of breaking the code

Duration: 03:05

The Lorenz / Tunny code's weakness demonstration helped with an inspired guess to de-compose combined messages, but how does the machine work

Duration: 04:20

Lorenz / Tunny - Bill Tutte considers how the machine works, looking for patterns and breaks how it works. Brute force revealed the quality of the information involved from High Command, thanks to one sloppy German operator

Duration: 03:50

Field test of Tunny decryption: Military Intelligence for the Russian front (Captain Jerry Roberts, former Cryptographer at Bletchley Park), The Red Army forewarned, turning the tide of the war

Duration: 01:39

The National Archive: Bill Tutte, the one plus two method from intercepted messages, and the statistical methods of cracking the code needing much work for this to succeed

Duration: 01:24

Tommy Flowers, GPO Engineer: Machine Man: His background, Dollis Hill, machines for code breaking, Max Newman (Paul Gannon, author of 'Colossus: Bletchley Park's Greatest Secret'), the Newmanry, Heath Robinson kept on breaking down: Flowers had a better idea with electronic circuits & valves (Tony Sale, Co-founder of 'The National Museum of Computing, tNMoC)

Duration: 03:29

Colossus Built: Tommy Flowers, GPO Engineer designs and build Colossus, a massive task but it works first time, the first semi-programmable computer (Tony Sale, Co-founder of 'The National Museum of Computing, tNMoC), the bedstick inputting 5000 characters per second, a technical manual with circuit diagrams with ideas now used in modern computers. Colossus 'broke' the two 'chi' wheels only, so decoding Tunny was still a team effort - 7 Stages, the Newmanry handling two, the Testery handling the other five

Duration: 03:11

More Colossus machines needed for D-Day. One more was delivered by then, 1st June, Bill Chandler, and then the operators, working within a pool of water. Tunny De-crypts made 2 major contributions to the success of D-Day (Tony Sale, Co-founder of 'The National Museum of Computing, tNMoC)(Captain Jerry Roberts, former Cryptographer at Bletchley Park)

Duration: 03:43

Tunny intercepts of information also helped to 'get inside Hitler's head': e.g. War in Italy. The Germans totally put their faith in their machines, a failing

Duration: 02:23

Britain's Code breaking organisation compared with Germany's, and different attitudes to the people types employed at Bletchley Park, job done by 1945

Duration: 01:46

Bletchley and its People after the war: Maintaining the silence, keeping it secret (Sir John Scarlett, former Director General MI6). Colossus moved to new GCHQ buildings and used until the 1960s, Russian de-crypting during the Cold War, America announces they have built The First Computer ENIAC in February 1946, the true history of computing corrupted, Tommy Flowers' secrets maintained.

Duration: 02:01

Bletchley and its People after the war: Bill Tutte: A fellowship at Cambridge, then moved to Canada (Professor Michele Mosca, Dep. Director Institute for Quantum Computing), Tutte a genius (Professor Bill Cunningham, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Waterloo). Bill Tutte talks about his work in the 1980

Duration: 01:55

Bletchley and its People after the war: Some recognition in the 1980's (Tommy Flowers talks in 1982 at the Museum of Digital Technology, Boston)- Tommy did get to see the Colossus rebuild at tNMoC at Bletchley. Bill Tutte breaks his silence on Tunny, an enormous burden lifted, Fellow of the Royal Society from 1987, along with Alan Turing and Max Newmann (Keith Moore, Head of Library and Archive, Royal Society), Tommy passing an introductory course in Information Processing in 1993, aged 87 (Kenneth Flowers, Tommy Flower's son). Memorials: Headstone / the working Colossus re-build at tNMoC Bletchley Park

Duration: 05:53

Summary (Captain Jerry Roberts, former Cryptographer at Bletchley Park)

Duration: 00:47

End Titles & In Memory of Tony Sale (1931-2011)

Duration: 00:29