Bletchley Park, home of the World War II Codebreakers, is to receive a visit from the Queen tomorrow, as she dedicates a public memorial to those who worked at the facility and its outstations during the war.
Bletchley Park, near Milton Keynes, was home to some of the most critical work during the war: tasked with intercepting and decoding German communications, teams of some of the brightest minds in Britain worked in secret creating novel equipment to crack the codes.
Following the conclusion of the war, General Dwight D. Eisenhower claimed that the work carried out at Bletchley Park was of 'priceless value'. "It has saved thousands of British and American lives," he claimed, "and, in no small way, contributed to the speed with which the enemy was routed and eventually forced to surrender."
Despite the vitally important work carried out at the Park during the war, many of those who worked there ended up ignored by the government they had served. In just one example, Alan Turing, a key figure at the Park and generally considered to be the grandfather of modern computing, was sentenced to chemical castration and the removal of his security clearance when his sexual orientation became public knowledge.
Since then, the work carried out at the Park has become more widely known. Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a public apology for Turing's treatment at the hands of the government of the day, and two years ago the Foreign Secretary decided that the surviving members of the Park's staff should receive recognition for their efforts in the form of commemorative badges.
At the same time, it was decided that something should be done to honour those who have passed. "The commitment was made to commemorate those that weren't still alive," Bletchley Park Trust director Simon Greenish explained to thinq_. "We went through a process of establishing where the veterans really wanted the memorial to be, and almost unanimously it was here at Bletchley. So, I think this is a consequence of all of that: the recognition two years ago of the correctness of commemorating the workers, and now this is the final part of that process.
"It's a very important milestone in the history of Bletchley Park," Greenish explained. "I think it really sets the scene for the international importance of the site, and the work that was done here during the war by the Codebreakers. It's recognition from the highest part of the land that we've got an important story here.
"The fact that the Queen is coming here really does illustrate how important this place was, and the people who worked here. That's the key thing to it: these people weren't doing minor things in World War II, they were winning the war."
It's a message which is becoming more widely known, but one that has been overlooked in the past. Bletchley Park has always struggled for funding, relying on private donations and fundraising activities to keep the Park safe for future generations to visit. Most recently, Bletchley Park fan Astrid Byro launched a sponsorship campaign in which she will climb to the Everest base camp in order to raise the money required to save historic Hut 6 from dilapidation.
The Queen will unveil the memorial tomorrow at a special ceremony at the Park, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh.