Prompt #5 wanted me to write a story, which didn’t interest me at all, but it also wanted me to practice brevity, which interested me much more. So, I decided to just choose a (non-fiction) topic and limit my word count. The resulting article is exactly my target 200 words; this introduction and my sources don’t count.
Bletchley Park is a nineteenth-century mansion in Buckinghamshire, England that was used by British intelligence during World War Two as a secret code breaking center. The men and women who worked at Bletchley Park were responsible, most notably, for breaking several variants of the extremely-complex German Enigma code. The operations of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), England’s code-breaking organization, began during World War One but then went largely dormant until events in 1930s Europe made it obvious that the ability to read coded German messages would become critical to Britain’s survival. The project was so highly classified that participants were not allowed to discuss it, even to their families, for several decades after the war. At the war’s peak, it was an extremely diverse collection of men and women – ranging from young debutants to the famous mathematical genius Alan Turing – that worked at Bletchley in a wide variety of functions. The fact that such a large and varied group was able to work together harmoniously in such close quarters for several of the most fraught years in modern human history makes the history of Bletchley Park and the GC&CS a compelling sociological study and an unparalleled intellectual achievement.
McKay, Sinclair. The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: The Men and Women Who Cracked the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park. New York and London: Plume, 2010.