|Walter Morris - Bletchley Park medal award
8th October, 2009
|A group of the first young conscripts of the Second World War were being asked by their Sergeant, “Who wants to be an air gunner ? Who was a mechanic in civvy life ?”
As the hands went up, so they passed to another NCO to begin their training. Greenwich born Walter Morris had been advised by his father, “Never volunteer for anything”, and so it was that he was among the also-rans who were allocated to the RAF Police.
But it wasn’t for that part of his wartime career that he received a medal from the government in July this year.
That was for his work as one of the silent squad, centred on Bletchley Park, who spent their waking hours monitoring enemy radio traffic signals which others would decode to unlock their secrets most famously using the Enigma machine
|So Walter’s war, after a year’s training as a wireless mechanic, and a serious amount of vetting of his background, was spent at a Bletchley out-station tucked away in the Oxfordshire countryside. Walter was billeted with a lady, churchwarden in the Northamptonshire village of Helmdon, whose son was a POW somewhere behind enemy lines.
Walter worked shifts around the clock in a nondescript collection of buildings under a tall wireless mast. Apart from maintenance of the receivers and transmitters, his team acted upon instructions which came in at any time by landline from Bletchley Park, to change the radio frequencies upon which they operated. This was to foil eavesdropping by the enemy, who were keen to decode our wireless traffic, and sometimes they even turned the tables by feeding them deliberately misleading signals about Allied intentions.
Working in this unscheduled way meant being constantly alert, but, especially at night, Walter kept his mind and body active with some highly skilled woodcarving, one example of which graces his home today in The Lodge.
|Walter moved to Wrington to be near his son and family after 40 years in Welling, Kent. He warmed to the friendly atmosphere which Wrington offers to any newcomers who take an interest in village activities. For Walter, these include the Lunch and Friendship Clubs, and bowling. His sights are currently set on his 90th birthday celebrations next March.|
|Painting by Walter, aged 14, and below, with Commodore Sir Roy Gill on the deck of the Cutty Sark|
|Interview recorded by Richard Thorn in Walter's flat in The Lodge, during the school mid-morning break going on in the field behind !|