Seventy Years Ago This Month at BP

When I first started visiting Bletchley Park over 10 years ago, a Bletchley Park volunteer and guide Brian Oakley was producing a monthly account of the war called ‘Sixty Years Ago at BP‘. The newsletter was available for free in the mansion and recounted the events unfolding during the corresponding month during World War 2.

This series of informative sheets covers some of the main events of the war with an ’emphasis on the work of the codebreakers at Bletchley Park, and on the impact of the Intelligence they generated on the war itself.‘ They appeared every month for the period of July 1999 to August 2005.

Brian Oakley has subsequently revised and re-issued the newsletters as ‘Seventy Years Ago This Month at BP‘ and they are once again for the public to enjoy on a month to month basis.

A complete set of the newsletters has been produced as a thick spiral bound A4 document called ‘The Bletchley Park War Diaries July 1939 – August: Secret Intelligence and the Second World War‘. It may still be available to purchase from the Bletchley Park Bookshop but unfortunately, it is no longer featuring on the Bletchley Park website.

(2014 NOTE: This is one of my most thumbed Bletchley resources. I will be looking at ways that I can help bring this back into the public domain. Watch this space.)

The original newsletters were, for the most part, written in the present tense and that approach has been continued in parts for the revised ‘Seventy Years Ago This Month at BP‘ series. They also focus on the war in Europe although some accounts of the war in the Pacific are made.

The author describes how the newletters unfold:

The episodic style does mean that important events unfold over a number of months, often with some reminder of what has been described in earlier months. The restriction to the two sides of a piece of paper has also been preserved in this current edition. That limitation means that usually there is very considerable competition for space, so not all imporants events that arose in any one month can be fully covered. In order to complete a story the device of anticipating the ‘future’ is sometimes used, [in which case the material that is anachronistic in a particular month is usually expressed in square brackets]. Another consequence of shortage of space is that a selective policy has to be adopted. This means that, in general, events are included which have most relevance for a largely British readership and, in particular, those events where BP was most involved in the story.”

It is with great sadness that I must advise you that Brian Oakley, the writer and editor of the Bletchley Park Seventy Years Ago this Month newsletters passed away last week (August 2012). My deepest sympathies go to his family. His interest and diligent research into Bletchley Park’s past is a huge asset to the understanding of its history and the lives of those who worked there.



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