Beds, Herts & Bucks

World War Two Bletchley Park code breaker recognised

Joanna Chorley with the computer Colossus Image copyright Mark Fraser Photography
Image caption Joanna Chorley said she "wanted to be part of it" when she first saw Colossus

A Bletchley Park code breaker has been recognised, more than 70 years after the end of World War Two.

Joanna Chorley was one of the team at Britain's secret wartime code breaking centre near Milton Keynes.

She never received the badge and certificate which were awarded to the code crackers as they were sent to her home after she had moved.

Tewkesbury Fields, near Bristol, the care home where she lives, said it was "wonderful" she had been recognised.

Listen: Joanna Chorley's story

Image copyright Mark Fraser Photography
Image caption She had missed out on her award because it was sent to her previous address after she had moved

During WW2, Mrs Chorley was trained to be one of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) operators for Colossus, the first electronic, programmable computer.

It was developed to help decipher encrypted messages between Hitler and his generals.

Mrs Chorley was presented with her award, issued by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), at Bletchley Park.

She said the first time she saw Colossus, she thought it "looked like something made of Lego".

"I thought what it was capable of doing was the most amazing thing and I wanted to be a part of it," she said.

Image copyright Mark Fraser Photography
Image caption She told carers at her care home she had not been recognised for being part of the team

She had joined WRNS at the age of 17 after leaving domestic science college.

One of the options available to her was to work on "light electrical machinery in the country".

"I always liked nut and bolts," she said as she explained why she took that option.

It was during a "wishing well scheme" at the care home where she lives that she told staff she had missed receiving recognition for her part in the code breaking team.

The care home contacted the GCHQ and the commemoration team arranged for her to receive the award.

The care home said the visit had revived "special memories" and has given Mrs Chorley "new ones to treasure".

Image copyright Mark Fraser Photography

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