Search for code-break­ers based at HMS Pem­broke V

Plaque will com­mem­o­rate work of Wrens at ‘Enigma’ out­sta­tion

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Zoe Drewett zoe.drewett@trin­i­tymir­

HIS­TO­RI­ANS are try­ing to track down women who worked at a top se­cret Min­istry of De­fence site to help un­veil a plaque pre­serv­ing their place in his­tory.

The site in Eastcote, be­tween Eastcote Road and Lime Grove, played an im­por­tant role dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, known at that time as HMS Pem­broke V.

It was an out­sta­tion to the now renowned but then ul­tra se­cret Bletch­ley Park, the first place of its kind to use early com­puter tech­nol­ogy to in­ter­cept and de­code Ger­man sig­nals, and the set­ting of a new film, The Imi­ta­tion Game, about pi­o­neer­ing math­e­ma­ti­cian Alan Tur­ing, played by Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, who helped to crack the Enigma code.

The code-break­ing cen­tre at Eastcote – which later be­came the Gov­ern­ment Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Head­quar­ters ( GCHQ) be­fore the op­er­a­tion moved to Chel­tenham – re­mained a se­cret un­til the 1970s.

It is now Pem­broke Park Es­tate, a hous­ing de­vel­op­ment which has com­mem­o­rated the code-break­ing his­tory of the site in the names of its roads and build­ings.

Now Ruis­lip, North­wood and Eastcote Lo­cal His­tory So­ci­ety, Eastcote Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion and Eastcote ward coun­cil­lors have been work­ing with the hous­ing de­vel­oper Tay­lor Wim­pey to in­stall a plaque, to en­sure the his­tory of the site is not for­got­ten.

Susan Toms, honorary sec­re­tary of the lo­cal his­tory so­ci­ety, said: “It was the largest out­sta­tion to Bletch­ley, with more than 800 Wrens work­ing there, who op­er­ated 110 de­cod­ing bombes.[Elec­tro-me­chan­i­cal de­cod­ing ma­chines to help de­ci­pher Enigma en­crypted mes­sages].

“It is so im­por­tant that we make some mark of the his­tory be­cause no­body at the time knew what was go­ing on there and just how im­por­tant the work was – a lot of peo­ple still do not know.

“There are no longer any phys­i­cal traces of the site after the hous­ing es­tate was built, so we wanted to in­stall some­thing vis­i­ble that peo­ple can go and read and find out about this im­por­tant piece of our lo­cal his­tory,” she said.

The so­ci­ety hopes to track down mem­bers of the Women’s Royal Naval Ser­vice (Wrens) who may have worked at the site dur­ing the war, or in the pe­riod after the end of the con­flict, or who may have mem­o­ries as­so­ci­ated with the site, so that they can be in­vited to at­tend an un­veil­ing cer­e­mony on Novem­ber 20.

See or email toms.susan@google­

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