Cracking The Code In France

We make a fascinating discovery about our France-based Director and Bletchley Park links

Photo of Greg Harvey
Mon, 2012-10-22 12:38By greg

In something of a bizarre and fascinating twist of fate, it so happens that I live next to (and used to live in) the little French town of Uzès, in the middle of the French garrigues, surrounded by wild hills, even wilder pigs and grape vines. Uzès is a town steeped in French history, being the second seat of the monarchy for centuries, but bringing things more up to date, we were amazed to discover a tie with our name and the work done at Bletchley Park cracking the famous Enigma code.

After the outbreak of World War II several Polish scientists, who were already working on the Enigma code publicly in Poland, were evacuated from Poland to France to continue their work. This they did, until France herself fell into Nazi hands and Vichy France was created, under a new government friendly to the Nazis (and while the 'Free French' government was exiled in London, under General de Gaulle). They initially fled the country to north Africa, but as things stabilised and it appeared the Nazis were going to largely stay out of Vichy France, the 'Free French' had them return to France to work on decoding enemy messages, in secret, in Uzès.

Based in Château des Fouzes, reporting to a French officer masquerading as a businessman who rented the property, they communicated directly with London via radio messages and, presumably, a lot of the work they did ended up at Bletchley Park on the desk of Alan Turing. (As an aside, the château was converted into luxury apartments and, knowing nothing of its history, my wife and I actually toyed with the idea of buying one of the apartments a year ago.)

They continued to do so until, fearing an Allied invasion from Africa, the Nazis ignored their treaty with Vichy France and invaded once more. On the hunt for spies, the German army began searching intensively for suspicious radio activity, so the operation was suspended and everyone involved fled the country, by various routes.

One of the more famous scientists to make it out was Marian Rejewski, whom you can read more about on this remarkably detailed Wikipedia page, if you feel so inclined:

So there you go. We have an office in Uzès to match our name's connections to Bletchley Park. All we need now is a UK office in Bletchley!