British WW II Code Crackers Never Broke Code of Silence

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During World War II, the best brains in Britain cracked Germany's encrypted secrets but never broke their own code of silence.

Now gray-haired and using walking sticks and at least one wheelchair, the legendary code breakers returned for a reunion Tuesday at Bletchley Park, where they labored in the grim, blacked-out rooms and played a key role in defeating the Nazis.

The code breakers who worked here in anonymity helped alter history, frustrating Adolf Hitler's ambitions by giving Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wartime Cabinet crucial advance knowledge of Germany's invasion plans, defenses, and U-boat movements.

Age has not dimmed the code breakers' fierce pride. They don't boast — the British don't do that — but they know they saved lives.

"Do you know what Churchill called us?" said Jean Valentine, 84, her blue eyes flashing. "He called us 'the geese that laid the golden eggs but never cackled.'"

Tuesday's event was to honor a rebuilt replica of the Turing Bombe, the machine invented by mathematician Alan Turing that was an outsized forerunner of the modern computer. That invention deciphered the Germans' top-secret messages that were encoded by the Nazis' typewriter-like Enigma machines.

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