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Cracking the Luftwaffe Codes

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About the Author

Gwen Watkins served at Bletchley Park in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force.


"Naval Intelliegence Professional Quarterly""Most Naval Intelligence Professionals - even those particularly interested in codebreaking - would probably avoid a book on breaking Luftwaffe codes. In this instance that would be a great mistake...there have been scores of books recounting the British codebreaking activities during World War II at BletchleyPark, a private estate some 50 miles north of London. But "Cracking the Luftwaffe Codes" is different. It is the personal account of Miss Gwen Davies who, as an 18-year-old sergeant in the Royal Air Force WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force), was ordered to Bletchley Park in the summer of 1942...We are told about the process and procedure for cracking the German Air Force codes. But more interesting to this reviewer is the author's descriptions of the people with whom she worked, the famous 'huts' in which the codebreakers worked, their accommodations (in private homes and then in barracks), their social life, and, especially, their food. The appendix 'Food at Bletchley' is particularly fascinating, and gives lie to the popular novel Enigma by Robert Harris (1995), which claimed to be an accurate view of the workings and culinary privations of Bletchley Park. "Miss Davies had an excellent memory for words and a gift for languages, making her a useful participant in the codebreaking effort. She was one of thousands of British and American codebreakers who made contributions to the Allied victory in World War II - often one word at a time."

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