No Sleep on VE Day

Memories of Morse, musicals, secrets and skylarks

Cynthia Humble, nee Grossman was an intercept operator in the ATS from 1944 and was stationed at Forest Moor in the Yorkshire countryside. There she listened intently to enciphered Morse signals which were whisked off to a place she and her colleagues knew only as Station X. Her story is featured in No Sleep on VE Day, a brand new episode of the Bletchley Park Podcast, out now.

Her memories of the intense work, the somewhat rationed but sparkling social life and how she and her watch did not sleep a wink on VE Day, despite it falling between gruelling night shifts, are all in this month’s episode.

She recalls “Came the day in May 1945, we had been on the midnight to 7am shift, and the sets had been very quiet, with very little Morse, and some messages in German language coming through. Wearily we rode back to our huts to sleep. It was a lovely day and sleep deserted us for we knew something important was to be announced. We sat outside the hut on the grass, in our blue and white pyjamas, and eventually we heard – THE WAR WAS OVER!”

Bletchley Park’s Oral History project has been running for five years, gathering more than three hundred rich and detailed interviews so far, with Veterans of the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park and its outstations all over the world.

This rich archive is ever growing as the project continues apace. Born into an army family, Cynthia was keen to do her bit for the war effort, so she joined up at the grand old age of seventeen and a half. She went on to make memories which have lasted a lifetime.

Bletchley Park is keen to gather as many Veterans’ first hand testimonies as possible. For more information contact Oral History Officer Jonathan Byrne [email protected] 01908 640404.

This month’s podcast also features the newly opened second phase of the groundbreaking exhibition about codebreaking during World War One, The Road to Bletchley Park. This explores stories including the largest naval battle of WW1 and the secret telegram which brought the USA into the conflict.

The Bletchley Park Podcast is available on the Bletchley Park website, Audioboom’s Bletchley Park channel and iTunes.

Image ©Cynthia Humble, nee Grossman