Bluebird Care Celebrates VE Day's 75th Anniversary

Published: 08/05/2020

We are pleased to be able to share the incredible story of one of customers who was an active part of the wartime effort, working on the Bombe machine.

As part of our celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day and the end of the second World War, we are pleased to be able to share the incredible story of one of customers who was an active part of the wartime effort. 

For many of our customers, who either actively fought in the war or who were a key part of the wartime effort back home in Britain, this year’s 75th anniversary celebrations mark a momentous occasion. 

94-year-old Mary, who has four children and thirteen grandchildren, was a key part of Britain’s wartime effort, working on the Bombe machines that eventually helped to crack the Enigma code. 

During World War Two, Mary had three elder brothers all in the forces.

She said: “I felt that I needed to get into doing something to help the war effort. So, at 18, I volunteered for the WRNS” 

Mary and her twin sister, Elizabeth set off Stanmore, where they discovered that volunteers were needed for an important secret job. 

Mary explained: “I have to confess, that I didn’t know if I wanted to do that, but my sister was very keen, and she said ‘right, that’s what we are going to do’ - and when I heard what it was I was really pleased.”

Mary was drafted to Eastcote to work on the Bombe machines that helped to crack the Enigma Code.

She continued: “The very clever people at Bletchley Park had managed to write up menus which could be decoded by the Bombe machine, but it had to run through the thousands of positions it could be in to find out what it was”. 

As part of her role in the wartime effort, Mary had to sign the official secrets act, and has only recently been able to discuss the work she did during the war. 

Mary said: “People would ask ‘what are you doing, dear?’ and we would have to say, ‘I’m doing confidential clerical work’ – that was all we could say for 25 years!”

It wasn’t all work and no play. Mary has fond recollections of going to London and queuing for the theatre in Trafalgar Square.

She said: “If you were in the forces you had free tickets to the theatre… You couldn't go anywhere without your uniform, and of course, you had a respirator, at the beginning we didn’t have handbags, so we used to stuff our lipstick in our respirator and, and they would say: that’s against the law’ and then we were given handbags.”

Mary also used to enjoy parties alongside the American Airforce, she said: “They were quite wild! I remember once, so many people had gone into the grounds; the first officer was blowing her whistle - you can guess what they were doing!”

When the war ended, Mary was relieve, she said: “We had a very tense time during the D-Day landings, there was more and more work piling in… If you even got a wrong stop because you’d had a short, people’s lives were at risk all the time – we did have one girl who had a breakdown because it was such a terrible strain, it was a terribly stressful job.”

Enigma machine facts:

  • The Enigma Machine was a coding machine, developed in Germany and was used to encipher all its military and naval signals. 
  • In September 1939, Alan Turing was joined by other mathematicians at Bletchley Park, where they developed a new machine (the ‘Bombe’) capable of breaking Enigma messages.
  • In 1945 Alan Turing received an OBE from King George VI.
  • Breaking the Enigma code helped the Allies to prepare for the D-Day invasion, it shortened World War Two by several years.