Blind Veterans UK Member, Margaret was employed at the highly secret Bletchley Park establishment during the war, but some things stay secret...
During World War Two, Margaret was one of many aircraftswomen who worked at Bletchley Park. It is only in recent years that the public has been able to find out more about the codebreaking that took place there, and Bletchley Park has since become a museum.
It was a strange path that led Margaret to her intelligence work.
“I always wanted to be a wireless operator from day one, but I couldn’t get in because the [six monthly] classes had started, so I went instead to Barrow in Furness. After I finally passed my wireless operator training, I was posted to Bomber Command for six months, but was only there for four before I was recalled for six months special training.”
After a short spell at RAF Stanbridge, Margaret was selected for work at Bletchley Park, and life became very different. From the start, the word was secrecy.
“I was sworn into secrecy by a justice of the peace - he said to us ‘look into my eyes, now, what I’m going to tell you, you take with you to the end of your days, you do not repeat anything. The government will tell you “yes, it’s open now, you can tell us, and you can say all”, but you do not.’”
Margaret, like many veterans, has remained faithful to her vow of silence, and her lips are still firmly sealed, despite the passage of time and the increased prominence of the work at Bletchley Park – much of which has since become declassified.
“They’ve told us down at Bletchley, that we were the most secret because there were only two of us working with the sergeant..
“We were taken to work in an RAF transport with blacked out windows, you didn’t know where you were going. I found out about Bletchley Park re-opening when I was on Remembrance Parade a few years ago, and someone said to me ‘you must go’, but I never saw the place really, you always got taken straight inside to the hut. Even now I still learn new things.”
After the museum opened, Margaret became a regular visitor and attends the site at least once a year where she is a widely recognised, and feted figure. But despite the pleading of those that run Bletchley Park now, Margaret won’t say a word. The visits are nostalgic for Margaret, and bought back some vivid memories of her time there.
Despite the praise now being garnered by those who worked at Bletchley Park, Margaret never saw her role as significant.
“I often think to myself, “oh what a little bit we did”. I once said to a vicar friend of mine ‘I’m only a small cog in a big wheel’, but he said to me, ‘you know that wheel couldn’t go without that little cog, just remember that.’”
Margaret left the RAF on 19 April 1946 as an Aircraftswoman First Class (ACW1). However, as she was leaving, she received a very significant piece of mail.
“On the day I got demobbed I received a letter that stated I had to be prepared to return back within 24 hours, and in the meantime if I had got married or had children, to bring the children with you, and they will be looked after.”
Thankfully, that never happened and Margaret was able to enjoy her post war life to the full.