Vera’s war role is honoured by new council chairman

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VERA Anderson was surprised and honoured to be invited to Breckland Council’s new chairman’s official reception.

Robin Goreham invited the 86-year-old as guest of honour, with all Norfolk’s mayors and council chairman, after finding she had served at Bletchley Park, the World War Two code breaking centre.

Cllr Goreham said: “To find a Thetford resident who served there is incredible.She must be one of the last survivors of Bletchley Park.”

Vera said: “It was a very big surprise for me and an honour. We’re talking about something that happened 70 years ago.”

Brought up in Rushford, she was in the Land Army before joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service (women’s Territorial Army) at 17. She was at Bletchley Park for six months where the lowest rank in the department she worked in was a major. She saw Alan Turing’s Bombe, the computer he developed to crunch the codes, but says: “I didn’t know what I was looking at. Bletchley Park was an extremely secretive place.”

She only found out what they did a few years ago when she saw a book called Hut H in Thetford Library.

“I thought, ‘I knew a Hut H at Bletchley Park’ and that’s the only way I know anything about it,” she said.

But the last Government felt all service there should be recognised so Vera now has a Bletchley Park badge and certificate to show her three children, 10 grand children and 15 great grandchildren.

Another unusual reception feature was dancing to ‘60s hits played by Cllr Goreham’s band Polaris.