"CodeBreakers and the Enigma Machine Tour by Dr Mark Baldwin"
Date: Tuesday 26th February 2008
Venue: Thomas Telford School, Telford 6.30 for 7.00pm start
Event Synopsis: The Codebreakers, Enigma, Bletchley Park & The Battle Of The Atlantic - an illustrated lecture by Dr Mark Baldwin
One of the Second World War's most fascinating stories is that of the Enigma machine, a portable encryption device widely used by the Germans, which they believed to be totally secure. Nevertheless, by mathematical analysis and modern technology (and a certain amount of good luck), the Allies devised techniques for 'breaking' Enigma codes, and thus read hundreds of thousands of German messages, providing a wealth of reliable intelligence.
Much of this work was carried out at Bletchley Park, today open to the public as a museum site, which explains and illustrates the history of the attack on Enigma, initiated by the Poles in the 1930s, later perfected by the British. The intelligence gained was of immense value to the Allies in virtually every theatre of war, but nowhere more so than in the Battle of the Atlantic, that fierce conflict which lasted nearly six years and cost over 60,000 lives. Dr Baldwin uses the Battle of the Atlantic to exemplify the importance of codebreaking in winning the war.
After the lecture, the audience are invited to take part in a hands-on practical demonstration of one of the few surviving Enigma machines. Only about 200 are known to survive worldwide; of these, only about a dozen are in public collections in Britain. There is no other machine on tour, so Dr Baldwin is providing a unique opportunity for the audience not just to view, but also to operate, an original Enigma machine. This is of particular interest, as there is no working machine on permanent public display anywhere in England north of Bletchley Park, and nowhere at all in Wales, Scotland or Ireland.
Dr Baldwin has travelled widely throughout Britain giving nearly 200 presentations on codebreaking in the Second World War to a variety of audiences - professional, educational, commercial and the general public – including many in theatres, arts centres and festivals. In 2004, he gave 28 lectures including four in Poland. In 2005, he spoke in Germany and Northern Ireland amongst other venues, and in 2006 was asked to mount interpretative hands-on Enigma displays at the Imperial War Museum's travelling exhibition in Shrewsbury, and at the Air Open Day at RAF Cosford, and also gave a series of lectures on board a cruise liner. His programme continues into with lectures in Kidderminster, Chesham, Edinburgh, Worcester and Wolverhampton University, and he has been asked to repeat his display at RAF Cosford Air Show in June.