Renowned British code-breaker
Among Bletchley Park's brilliant decoders, Mavis Batey stood out. Her work led to a British victory over the Italian navy, and she was the first to crack the German spy service's code.
Fifty miles north of London lies Bletchley Park, a railway town during World War II that had few, if any, sights to recommend it. It was here, to a rundown estate on the other side of the tracks, that 19-year-old Mavis Batey was dispatched in the spring of 1940.
As Hitler's forces advanced across Europe, encoded messages from Panzer divisions, U-boats and even the German high command were being intercepted and relayed to the men and women at Bletchley Park, whose job was to break the German code and help Britain and its allies outwit the Axis powers.
Batey, a college student studying German linguistics, became one of Bletchley Park's nimblest decoders. She decrypted a message that led to a stunning British victory over the Italian navy in the Mediterranean.
She also was the first to crack the secret messages of the Abwehr, the German intelligence service, a breakthrough that helped ensure the success of the D-day landings.
"She was the last of the great break-in experts…who broke codes or ciphers that no one else had ever broken," said British historian Michael Smith, who wrote several books on Bletchley Park. "She was a remarkable woman and someone I will never forget, nor will anyone who ever met her."