Wartime code worker honoured

A BECCLES pensioner who worked at the wartime code-breaking centre Bletchley Park has been honoured for his efforts.

Arthur Crack, 84, spent six months working at the Buckinghamshire mansion when he was 19 and was trained in codes and ciphers.

Having signed the Official Secrets Act, it is only now that he and a number of other men and women have been publicly recognised after working at the confidential site, known as Station X.

Mr Crack has been honoured by Prime Minister David Cameron for his efforts and has received a Government Code and Cypher School certificate, signed by Mr Cameron, and a commemorative badge.

His role was to receive and send messages to the Allies, which involved translating code into English language and vice versa.

Codebreakers at Bletchley Park are probably best known for cracking the German Enigma codes.

The German military used the Enigma cipher machine during the second world war to keep their communications secret.

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Cracking the codes allowed the Allies to know in advance what German forces were planning.

Historians say the breakthrough shortened the war by two years, saving many lives.

Mr Crack was sent to RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire at the age of 18 before he joined 617 “Dambusters” Squadron at nearby RAF Scampton where he flew Lancaster bombers.

It was at RAF Scampton that Mr Crack’s commanding officer told him he would be going to Bletchley Park. “He told me I was going to go. I had no idea what I was going to be doing there,” Mr Crack said.

“It was a lovely place, the most beautiful house set in its own grounds with a great big lake.

“I didn’t give it a thought. We just knew we were training in codes. We were taught how to do these things and gradually it all came together. There were 10,000 of us and as many girls involved as there were men. After I had been doing it for six months it became second nature.”

Mr Crack believes he was sent to Bletchley Park, where he joined some of the country’s brightest minds, because he was talented at maths.

He was based in Hut 6 and was not involved in the cracking of the Enigma code.

“I was not involved in that side of it,” he said. “I had heard of Enigma and knew that people were trying to work out how to break it.

“My job was to receive messages and send messages out. You may have to put code into plain language or vice versa before you could send it out.

“We had to sign the Official Secrets Act. People never discussed what they were doing with other people. It was a secret we kept.”

Mr Crack said he was very proud to receive recognition for the role he played, but modestly added: “I was just one tiny little cog in a great big wheel.”

After the war Mr Crack worked as a builder, but following a serious accident he and his wife Daphne, 83, ran a fishing tackle and sport shop called Crack Sports in Blyburgate, Beccles, for 25 years.

The couple have one daughter and three grandchildren.