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  1. ITV Report

Bletchley Park: Surviving the stress

A new exhibition at Bletchley Park "High Spirits in Low Times" explores the ways codebreakers and their colleagues coped with the stress of the job.

Watch a video report by ITV News Anglia's Elodie Harper.

Monotonous tasks and gruelling shifts took their toll on staff, and ensuring they didn't suffer burnout was part of the war effort.

From government sponsored ultraviolet light treatment for those working night shifts to putting on plays, the recreation time led to a better balanced working life.

"It certainly helped some people put up with what was mostly a very dull and very hard job."

– Dr David Kenyon, Research Historian at Bletchley Park
Betty Webb (nee Vine-Stephens) ATS S/Sgt Credit: Bletchley Park

Betty Webb, who is now 94, used to record messages from signal staff all over the world, for others to decode.

She told ITV News it was a very monotonous job with long hours, but she enjoyed the musical life Bletchley Park offered.

"I joined a madrigal society which was run by a professional musician and depending on the weather we would hold our meetings inside or sometimes outside. But it was a unique thing to be doing, singing in a madrigal society, at that time and place."

– Betty Webb, veteran
Duddery Hut 6 Credit: Bletchley Park

The exhibition features the voices of veterans in a film and number of audio points. describing their individual experiences. There are also diaries and programmes of plays the codebreakers produced.

A performance of Pride and Prejudice had Brin Newton-John in the role of Mr Darcy - showing where his Hollywood star daughter Olivia got her talent.

Betty Webb speaking to ITV News Anglia's Elodie Harper Credit: ITV News Anglia

Betty Webb is pleased the exhibition is being held, as it completes our view of what life was really like at Bletchley Park.

VE Day celebrations Credit: Bletchley Park

"So far we've only talked about our working role, and this is an opportunity to put the whole picture together."

– Betty Webb
Testing and checking room in Block D Credit: Bletchley Park