Saturday, 29 December 2012

New Year, New Sir...

The new years honours list came out yesterday, for those of you now aware the honours list is drawn up of people who have contributed to the fabric of society, either through academia, deeds or experience shared with all, my own Aunt was appointed to the list as a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to her community.

I've always held the tradition, and I call it a tradition because there is no empire any longer, in high regard not because of it representing anything in particular but that  it represents an accolade to the, most part, worthy.

Sometimes items on the list however are contentious, such as Cherie Blair being made a CBE for her work on "Womens Issues"... as far as I can tell she's married to a war criminal, so she shouldn't be on there.  Anthony her husband was the first prime minister to leave office and not be automatically appointed a KBE for these very contentious results of his decisions in office and his successor Gordon Brown was the second to leave office and not be given a KBE gratis as well!

But that's politics for you, a dark and murky world, and so its to a second dark and murky world we turn, SECRETS.

The work during the war at Bletchley Park spark my imagination whenever I hear tell of them, indeed only last week I read a booklet by Tony Sale about his work with Colossus.  However, I also saw the documentary on the BBC last year about the work of one Captain Roberts, forming his part of the Testury breaking the much more complex (than the Enigma, of Robert Harris book infamy) codes of the high command.

The work Captain Roberts and others carried out was so secret and those brave, brilliant, people kept their secret so long it completely skewed the history of early programmable electronic computing such that even now people don't believe we British were there first.

But Captain Roberts makes his mark and finally at the age of 92 he has been awarded the MBE in the honours list, a worthy honour, however, given its grave importance, its secrecy and the fact that he is the last surviving member of the Testury perhaps he should receive a slightly higher honour?  Others on the team received no honour, no recognition, indeed members of the same team died with no recognition, whilst others received only recognition for work after the war, such as William Tutte who was made a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Perhaps Captain Roberts deserved something higher, in my opinion he certainly does.  But quite what would be thanks enough for him and everyone who worked at Bletchley I could not say, behind my own grand fathers (one in the Infantry whom guarded Rudolf Hess, fought on D-Day at Normandy and across France, the other whom served on HMS Belfast from 1942 until long after the war) the men and women working on code breaking were, and remain, the highest heroes to me.

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