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Veterans gather to celebrate 70th anniversary of remarkable computer credited with shortening the second world war

The Colossus has been credited with shortening the Second World War. Photo: ITV News Anglia

It was the world's first electronic computer. Credited with shortening the Second World War, and thus saving countless lives.

Colossus whirred into action in February 1944.

The Colossus allowed the British to gather crucial intelligence. Credit: National Archives

70 years on, some of the codebreakers who worked it came to see it whir once more at the National Museum of Computing based at Bletchley Park, including Margaret Bullen.

Margaret Bullen (left) operated the Colossus during the Second World War. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"Milton Keynes wasn't here then, we were set in the fields.

We were just a little, tiny village called Bletchley, with fields all around us. It's unbelievable to think of it now.

I just feel very warm and proud of what I did."

– Margaret Bullen, Former codebreaker

As war raged in Europe, hundreds of codebreakers worked in secret to gain an advantage for the Allies.

Their task was to intercept and decipher German messages.

The Colossus intercepted messages sent by Adolf Hitler and his generals. Credit: PA

The Colossus was first used in February 1944 to crack messages sent by Adolf Hitler and his generals.

Codebreakers aimed to intercept German messages. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The work was invaluable, the processes complex, and it was all made possible by a computer big enough to fill a room.

The Colossus was 7ft tall and 17ft wide, and weighed a staggering five tonnes - more than an adult Elephant.

It also contained over four miles or wiring.

The Colossus contained over four miles of wiring. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"The machines here (Bletchley), the Colossus in particular, helped speed up the codebreaking process.

The British military command and the Allied commands were on many occasions reading the German high command messages before the German commanders were reading them themselves."

– Andy Clark, The National Museum of Computing

The Bletchley veterans were sworn to secrecy for three decades after the war but now they have the memories of a job, and a machine to which they dedicated years of their lives.

Click below to watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Olivia Paterson