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Yorkshire Girl Meets ‘Enigmatic’ Ike

by Genevieve

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Archive List > World > France

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People in story: 
Jean Griffiths
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England and France
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Contributed on: 
13 October 2005

Jean Griffiths was celebrating her 23rd birthday the day she was called up to serve in the ATS, February 19, 1943. Little did she know on that day that her knowledge of both French and German languages would find her posted to the very secret Code and Ciphers section of Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Forces, then stationed at Bushy Park, near Hampton Court. Engaged in the very secretive business of deciphering and interpreting floods of ‘situation reports’, she had occasion to see General Eisenhower and his major staff members on many occasions, though as rank and military order prescribed, not to speak to him unless spoken to. The ‘situation reports’ gave constant updating to the commanding generals as to their next strategy to defeat the German forces. Messages to the field commanders were generated from SHAEFE by means of and “Enigma-like machine” which she operated. She got very skilled in her work, so much so, that soon after Paris was liberated, she was landed on Omaha beach to continue her work at the new SHAEFE headquarters in Versailles. It was her military work that occasioned her to meet the man who would become her husband, as he had served in the British Army. They were both de-mobbed and married, eventually coming to live in the village of Audlem, Cheshire, near to Nantwich where her husband served as a bank manager for many years, until his death at 65. Jean and her husband had one son.

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Henry Wheeler of the BBC Radio Shropshire CSV Action Desk on behalf of Jean Griffiths and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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