A Bletchley Park codebreaker from St Albans has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Monica King, who now lives in a nursing home in the city, was joined by family and friends to mark the occasion on Thursday, December 14.

They enjoyed a tea party together, as well as some sparkling refreshments.

During the war, Monica joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and completed basic training before gaining further skills as a wireless operator in Morse code.

It was then that she received the call up to Bletchley Park, home to codebreakers including Alan Turing who helped win the war by cracking the codes to the secret communications of the Axis powers.

Herts Advertiser: Monica celebrating her 100th birthday.Monica celebrating her 100th birthday. (Image: Picture supplied)

Monica was then known as Sergant Angier, and worked as a computer clerk in the Intelligence Branch, dealing with Luftwaffe short tactical codes in Block F.

While she found the work "boring" - juggling pieces of paper and groups of letters and figures with little idea of the wider operation she was part of - she remembered the social life fondly.

The work came to an abrupt end when the war in Europe concluded in May 1945, and Monica had to keep her involvement a secret until the information was declassified in the 1970s. She was recently awarded the Legion d'Honneur from the French government in recognition of her contribution to the war effort.

Herts Advertiser: Monica with some of her 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.Monica with some of her 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. (Image: Picture supplied)

Monica was born in London in December 1923, and spent her childhood in Sevenoaks in Kent. As war approached in 1939, she was sent to the USA to live with her aunts and read German, French and Italian at college on that side of the Atlantic.

She did not return to England until 1943, when she was preparing to begin her codebreaking work. The journey back involved a three-week long voyage aboard the SS Edam, a small Dutch merchant ship, as part of a convoy of 120 ships that was separated when a German U-boat was spotted beneath them.


After the war, Monica joined the Ministry of Defence in London, before moving to Berlin with the British Commanders'-in-Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany.

While in Germany, she met Captain John King, and they married in 1951 after John completed his studies at Trinity Hall in Cambridge.

They initially set up home in West Kirby, near Liverpool, and then moved to Surrey, where Monica worked as a playground assistant and school secretary until her retirement in 1983. 

It was in 1987 that Monica and John moved to St Albans, and they quickly involved themselves with the community.

Monica became a steward at the Abbey, joined the Justice and Peace group at St Bartholomew Church, volunteered at Centre 33 for the homeless, delivered Meals on Wheels, and helped with flower arranging and cleaning at church.

Herts Advertiser: Monica blows out the candles on her birthday cake.Monica blows out the candles on her birthday cake. (Image: Picture supplied)

She also continued to volunteer for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, a cause that was close to her heart - Monica was even arrested while demonstrating on two occasions.

Sadly, John died in 2011 but Monica continued to live independently until 2021, when she began to need full-time care.

Since then, she has made it through Covid, several minor falls and a broken hip to reach her 100th birthday.