St Albans pupils visited by Imitation Game’s Enigma machine

Sir Dermot Turing (nephew of Alan Turing and Trustee of Bletchley Park), Tom Briggs (Education Officer, Bletchley Park), Fergal Moane (Assistant Headteacher, Sandringham School)

Sir Dermot Turing (nephew of Alan Turing and Trustee of Bletchley Park), Tom Briggs (Education Officer, Bletchley Park), Fergal Moane (Assistant Headteacher, Sandringham School)

Archant

The subject of an Oscar-winning film took centre stage at a local school during its first ever CodeBreaker’s Day.

Pupils at Sandringham School, St Albans, were treated to a visit from a real Enigma machine, made famous by the film Imitation Game, and from Sir Dermot Turing, the nephew of the man who cracked the Enigma code, Alan Turing.

Played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film, Alan Turing created a machine in WWII that cracked the ‘unbreakable’ Enigma code and won the war.

His machine went on to aid the British government for years to come but Alan’s success went unknown for decades due to the secrecy of the operation.

His achievement and tragic life became the subject of the film, which won an Oscar at this year’s ceremony.

Tom Briggs, education officer at Bletchley Park, joined Sir Dermot and the actual Enigma machine used by Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley on set.

Students enjoyed a talk from Sir Dermot on the life of his uncle and the vital role that codebreakers had in the war.

He said that there were 159 quintillion combinations of settings for Enigma and it would take 400 times the 14 billion years that the universe has existed to try a combination of one per second.

Alan Gray, head teacher, said: “Our maths teachers appreciated the focus on numeracy!”

Pupils were able to demonstrate using the real machine and then undertook an activity that made a fully functioning Enigma from paper and crisp tubes.

They were able to decipher simple messages and moved onto using an Enigma simulator online to crack the longer codes.

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