I feel like I’m one of those people that knows a little about a lot, this year has certainly helped support that theory giving me tidbits of information each day from morse code to reiki, philosophy to Chelsea Buns. I fair pretty well in pub quizzes and don’t mind mulling away on the odd crossword puzzle too. Today, I thought I’d try my hand at one of the most difficult crossword puzzles out there, the one that recruiters used to hire codebreakers at Bletchley Park.
Bletchley Park was a top-secret code-breaking centre in the South of England during the Second World War. The code breakers, amongst them famous mathematician Alan Turing, managed to crack coded messages from Germany, deciphering the Enigma machine code the Germans were using. If you’ve seen The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch this might be a bit more familiar to you, but there came to a point where Bletchley Park needed more code breakers. It was a bit hard to openly advertise for staff for a secret agency, so the recruiters had to think creatively. In 1942, the Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper, ran a timed crossword competition after reports that their puzzles were becoming too easy. The goal was to solve the crossword in under 12 minutes, and those that did later received a letter inviting them to “military service” at Bletchley Park.
I found the puzzle on The New York Times and decided to have a go.
This was hard. I shouldn’t have expected anything less really, but after 10 minutes I only had 3 answers, and I was getting increasingly frustrated. I had no chance, and to be honest, even after I looked at the answers I still didn’t have a clue what half of them meant. This was interesting to have a go at but made me a bit sad that I’d never be recruited to a secret military agency with the purpose of breaking enemy codes. Need more practice!