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Gordon Welchman - A Station X Star

Gordon Welchman - A Station X Star Biographies World War II Famous People World History

Gordon Welchman was 33 years old in 1939. A brilliant mathematician, he was a fellow of Sidney Sussex College (at Cambridge University). He would play a very significant role at Bletchley Park during its code-breaking years.

During the early part of 1939, Welchman attended courses in cryptography at the Government Code and Cypher School. As an academic, Welchman knew other potential codebreakers, and he became very good at recruiting for GC&CS.

Beyond his professional work, what was Welchman like as a man? In his book The Secret Life of Bletchley Park, Sinclair McKay describes Welchman as:

...a dazzlingly clever 33-year-old mathematics lecturer... - a handsome fellow with an extremely neat moustache - [who] swiftly proved to be an assiduous, enthusiastic and fantastically ambitious recruiting officer. (See McKay at page 19.)

After the war broke out, for example, Welchman recruited a young woman named Joan Clarke (portrayed in the film, “The Imitation Game,” by Keira Knightly).

Clarke had just achieved a double first in Math, at Cambridge’s Newnham College and, during the summer of 1940, Welchman tapped her to work at Bletchley's Hut 8. (See McKay at page 194.)

Welchman also played a key role in helping Alan Turing to create his electro-mechanical machine—known as the "Bombe"—when Turing's first iteration of the machine did not perform the way its creator had hoped.


Media Credits

Image of Gordon Welchman, online via Spartacus Educational.

 

 

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