Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Oxford Brookes Historian, Professor William Gibson, discovers the existence of hitherto unknown Bletchley Park codebreaker

Friday, 26 July 2013

A chance discovery by Professor William Gibson of the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion, led to the discovery of a hitherto unknown Bletchley Park codebreaker. Professor Gibson read in Asa Briggs’s memoirs of codebreaking that Frank Newte had been one of Briggs’s friends and colleagues at Bletchley Park. Professor Gibson realised that Newte had been lecturer in Classics at St David’s College, Lampeter until 1977, but had died without his contribution being acknowledged. Newte returned from the War in 1946 and maintained his cover story that he had served in the Royal Artillery. Professor Gibson revealed that the truth was very different. Using the Bletchley Park records, Gibson uncovered that Newte had been in the Army Intelligence Corps attached to SIXTA, the number 6 traffic analysis school. In 1942 the work of SIXTA was so vital to the codebreaking at Bletchley Park that the unit moved there, and it became crucial to cracking the Enigma codes. Newte clearly took the Official Secrets Act seriously, so that he died thirty one years later without anyone knowing how central he had been to the war effort. As he had no family, and he left few papers, his secret died with him. As a result of Professor Gibson’s discovery a plaque has been erected at Lampeter acknowledging his work.