Thursday, 12 February 2015

Tamworth's Enigma Code hero

Magnificent memorial among the 70s ugliness of Tamworth
Few boaters venture further into Tamworth than the huge out of town Ventura retail park that borders the canal.
And, having been into the town centre, they're not missing a lot. Poor old Tamworth is one of those towns that were probably once attractive, elegant even, but suffered badly from 1970s brutalisation with ugly, cheapjack shopping precincts and their ghastly architecture. Then, of course, along came Tamowrth's massive out-of-town developments of huge superstores, cinema, Snowdome and the like, leaving the centre to implode into a place only visited by those unfortunate enough not to be able to run a car.
But standing in the market square, surrounded by cheap shops and take-aways is a magnificent memorial – and an unlikely looking one of intertwined anchors and chains. Turns out it is in memory of Tamworth born Colin Grazier who was awarded a posthumous George Cross in 1942. His actions, which cost him his life at the age of only 22, played a significant part in the unravelling of the German Enigma Code.
Colin Grazier whose heroism helped crack the Enigma Code
And, just as so much about the work done to break Germany's wartime code, what he did remained secret for over 30 years after the war ended.
Grazier was an able seaman on board HMS Petard which led a depth charge attack on a German U-boat, eventually forcing it to the surface. The submarine crew were taken on board but scuttled their vessel before leaving.
Petard's captain asked for volunteers to swim across to the sinking U-boat to retrieve what code books and documents they could. Grazier together with Lt Fasson and a third man, Tommy Brown, swam across and Grazier and Fasson went into the sub, passing material out to Brown. Sadly, the submarine lurched and suddenly sank, giving the two inside no chance of escape.
 However they had managed to pass out two code books which were sent to Bletchley Park and provided priceless information to the team of code breakers there.
Grazier and Fasson received the George Cross and Brown (a civilian crew member) the George Medal. Apparently Grazier and Fasson were actually recommended for VCs but the Admiralty, thinking that this might attract the attention of German Intelligence, changed it the GC, an honour normally given to civilians.

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