Codebreaking prize won by the daughter of a Bletchley Park veteran

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A BBC Radio 4 codebreaking competition in honour of the late Tony Sale, a trustee of The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, has been won by a woman whose own mother used to work at the birthplace of modern computing.

The winner, Angela Almond, a teacher from Leicester, explained: “One day as a child I returned home from school to tell my parents that I’d come top-of-the-class at codebreaking. My father said that he wasn’t surprised because my mother had worked at Bletchley Park during the war! But my mother never spoke about her work and we know very little of her time there.”

This week, Mrs Almond visited The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park to collect her prize – a valve used in the rebuilt Colossus and a piece of Colossus paper tape. She also received a Bletchley Park badge awarded posthumously on behalf of her late mother by Margaret Sale, Bletchley Park volunteer and wife of the late Tony Sale.

“My husband and I had a fantastic day at The National Museum of Computing and Bletchley Park,” continued Mrs Almond. “I think we may have worked out what my Mum did at Bletchley Park. She was a clerk seconded from the Foreign Office, so she didn’t do the ATS or Wren jobs, but she may have compared the intercepted messages for errors. She knew Morse code and later in life she did a lot of proof reading so, although her wartime role is a guess, it seems to fit.”

Mrs Almond toured The National Museum of Computing and was fascinated by the machines she saw. One, a Research Machines computer, was the first type of computer she ever used in teaching in the 1980s. The Museum’s store of vintage computing copies also reminded her of when she lived in a tiny flat stacked high with of copies of PC World and Wireless World collected by her husband Bob, a keen electronics engineer.

Mrs Almond, now a primary school supply teacher, is already planning another visit to The National Museum of Computing and Bletchley Park.

The BBC Radio 4 BH quiz on Sunday 4 September was set by Captain Jerry Roberts, a wartime codebreaker in the Bletchley Park Testery section, in honour of Tony Sale who led the rebuild of Colossus, the world’s first modern computer that helped decipher the Lorenz codes during World War II.

The rebuilt Colossus can be seen each day at The National Museum of Computing. The complete Museum is open on Thursday and Saturday afternoons and there are special tours on Tuesday and Friday afternoons.

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