MADAM: I was very interested in “From the Deputy Editor’s Desk” ( Autumn 2015) about Bletchley Park. However, I was surprised that no mention was made of the group of Post Office Engineers who built Colossus ( the first electronic digital computer). My late brother- in- law was one of those young men. Alan Gibbs worked at the GPO in Birmingham, with others servicing the teleprinters, sometimes playing tricks on the girls who operated them. My sister was one of those girls.
During the war Alan was sent to Dollis Hill in London, where, I presume, he had some special training with the other boys who were there. He and the others were then sent to Bletchley Park where he had to sign the Official Secrets Act. This meant he was not able to tell us about the work that was going on there, although he was still a civilian. We had some nasty remarks made to us by the neighbours because Alan was not in uniform, but no explanations were able to be given. Eventually the “Powers that be” decided to issue those young men with RAF uniforms. Alan became a sergeant. Unfortunately, the neighbours had died by the time Alan was able to talk about his work at Bletchley.
When Bletchley Park was opened to the public, Alan was among those who were invited to the opening and he was able to meet up with some of those with whom he had worked during those trying times.
My late sister, Alan’s widow, was taken to Bletchley by her son and when he told the guide that his father was one of the engineers who built Colossus,