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Sink the Bismarck

One of the last remaining figures from the wartime British code-breakers at Bletchley Park has died; Jane Fawcett was 95.

As Janet Hughes, an 18-year-old debutante, Fawcett had spent time in Switzerland learning German before war broke out.

She trained as a ballet dancer but failed to join Sadler’s Wells because she was apparently too tall.

At Bletchley Park she worked in Hut 6, which handled Enigma decrypts of the German army and air force.

She is credited with helping to locate the German battleship Bismarck. One shift in May 1941 saw her type out a message from the main Luftwaffe Enigma.

She read it and recognised that a Luftwaffe general had sent a message to the Bismarck; he had a son on the ship, which he had learned had been damaged in a previous battle, and wanted to know if his son was uninjured. The message revealed that Bismarck was on its way to France for repair.

This revelation assisted the British navy to pin down Bismarck’s location and sink it, as it approached the French post of Brest on 27 May.

After the war she trained as an opera singer.

 

Picture source: Wikimedia