29 December, 2006

Stuart Milner-Barry

Cipher Text is back! Apologies for the lack of activity here for most of 2006, hopefully I'll be posting more frequently in 2007. Anyway...

Last week I revamped the Wikipedia entry for Sir Stuart Milner-Barry, chess player, civil servant, and the head of Hut 6 at Bletchley Park from October 1943. He is particularly remembered for co-authoring a letter directly to Winston Churchill requesting more resources for the codebreakers, bypassing the apparently ineffectual leadership at Bletchley Park. The letter, which was also signed by Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman and Hugh Alexander, outlined their needs for a relatively small number of additional clerical staff in order to carry out their work effectively. Milner-Barry delivered the letter in person to 10 Downing Street in October 1941. After reading it, Churchill, who was a keen consumer of Bletchley Park's product, memo'd his staff with the terse but unambiguous "Make sure they have all they want on extreme priority and report to me that this had been done." With "ACTION THIS DAY" stamped above it in big letters. It seemed to have the desired effect.