The extraordinary story of Bamburgh’s connection with a deed later described by King George VI as “the most important single event in the whole war at sea” has been revealed in a special audio presentation for Bamburgh Castle, almost 79 years to the day after it took place.
The presentation by Ralph Baker Cresswell tells the story of his grandfather, Royal Navy hero and Bamburgh resident Captain Joe Baker Cresswell’s incredible role in helping defeat Germany in the Second World War. Capt Baker Cresswell’s shrewd decision in the heat of battle led to the capture on May 9, 1941, of a Nazi Enigma cipher machine from a crippled German U-boat.
His quick thinking actions helped famed British mathematician and father of computer science, Alan Turing and his team at Britain’s top secret Bletchley Park codebreaking HQ, to successfully decipher German naval Enigma messages, changing in Britain’s favour the course of both the Battle of the Atlantic and the global conflict.
Ralph had been due to deliver a presentation on VE Day at Bamburgh Castle alongside an original Enigma machine as part of a weekend of VE Day celebrations planned for the castle, which are being postponed due to Covid-19. His shorter audio version talks about his ancestor’s gripping story of derring-do to mark VE Day.
He said: “This is sadly a little known but true and remarkable story of wartime bravery. It wasn’t headline news at the time and was kept secret for half a century, even from the Americans when they entered the war.
“Everyone involved was also sworn to secrecy, and even at the end of my grandfather’s life, when the events surrounding the capture of the Enigma machine had been declassified, it never got the attention it should perhaps have done.
“I am very grateful to Bamburgh Castle for including my grandfather in their VE Day celebrations and for giving me the chance to tell the story of an extraordinary but self-effacing man who made such an immense contribution to victory in 1945.”
You can listen to Ralph’s audio presentation on Bamburgh Castle’s YouTube channel. Click on the You Tube icon to the right to access our channel.