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Intelligence chiefs hail UK-USA ‘entwined history’ on visit to Bletchley Park

GCHQ director Robert Hannigan and Admiral Michael S Rogers, his counterpart at the USA’s National Security Agency, are pictured during their tour of the historic code breaking centre, hosted by Bletchley Park Trust chairman Sir John Scarlett and chief executive Iain Standen.

It was a late night sharing of secrets over sherry began the ‘Special Relationship’ which remains crucial to both nations today.

In February 1941, months before the USA entered the war, US signals intelligence officials were treated to sherry in the office of the head of the government code and cypher school Alastair Denniston as each side shared codebreaking achievements against Germany and Japan’s secret communications systems.

Sir John said “As you go into the room, which has now been restored, you have a strong sense of what it must have been like on that evening 75 years ago.”

The trust has restored Mr Denniston’s former office to reflect its wartime significance.

Admiral Rogers said “I would encourage people to come here, because Bletchley Park represents an entwined history between our two nations and it shows what our nations can do when they come together.”

Mr Hannigan added: “Standing in this room is a reminder that it all comes back to people in the end; brilliant, dedicated people working together, taking risks, as we have between us. That partnership can do fantastic things against threats today, as it did 75 years ago.”

Mr Standen said: “They were, like any visitors, in awe of the place. When they stood watching the introductory film and it says ‘it happened here’ they got the hairs on the back of the neck feeling like everybody else does. Standing in Alastair Denniston’s office where this important event took place, again, they were moved.”