The Year was 1941

Alan Turing

Alan Turing is famous for building a computer and being part of a team that broke Germany’s unbreakable Enigma Code in World War II on July 9, 1941. This story is told in the 2014 movie, The Imitation Game. It also brought British cryptologist Joan Clarke to prominence. A brilliant mathematician, Clarke graduated from Cambridge but was not awarded a full degree because only men could earn them.

Joan Clarke

Clarke was sent to Bletchley Park, where men were working in secret to crack the Enigma Code. But she was assigned to work with a group of secretaries called “the Girls.” When her mentor insisted she be added to the men’s team, she was assigned to Hut 8, the only woman to work on the code. She was paid less than the men. She and Turing, who had very similar natures, became good friends.

But is there a story behind the story? The Enigma Code was in fact unbreakable. Then fortune favored the code breakers: a code deciphering machine was recovered from a captured sunken submarine. Or was it found on a captured trawler? The truth may be far different and it involves American beauty, Amy Elizabeth Thorpe. Thorpe, as “Cynthia,” became one of the top WWII spies. She believed in the cause but she did love the thrill of it.

Amy Elizabeth Thorpe

Thorpe is credited with obtaining secret information from various lovers that helped end World War II in victory for the allies. But the most amazing and daring thing she may have done was break into the Polish secret building where they had a German Enigma Code cipher machine. This is where the code book that Turing and Clarke used may actually have come from. Later such break-ins by “Cynthia” are documented.

The Japanese PURPLE machine

Two women were responsible for breaking the Japanese WWII PURPLE an ORANGE codes. The woman who made the breakthrough discovery in September 1940 that enabled the U.S. Navy cryptographers to beak the Japanese PURPLE Code was Genevieve Grotjan. She was not recognized for her role until after her death. The woman who broke the Japanese ORANGE Code in WWII was Agnes Meyer Driscoll. For this, she received no recognition because the Navy said she was a civilian.

Genevieve Grotjan

NOTE: For the same household chores, little girls are given less allowance [money] than little boys.

Agnes Meyer Driscoll

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Steve Ellis says:

    Great reminder of the critical importance of “intelligence” to preserving our freedom. And that women have intelligence equal (and for certain tasks, like codebreaking, superior) to men

    1. ebmcgee says:

      And now they are getting credit!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.