Bletchley Park secretly “Moves the Mail”

Dec. 6, 2006 – Bletchley Park will reveal for the first time in the UK some unique wartime correspondence when it hosts the “Moving the Mail” exhibition. This extensive collection of Post Office vehicles and equipment from the British Postal Museum creates a historical journey about the way letters and parcels are moved. One of the original code breaking huts at Bletchley Park has been specially prepared to house the exhibition. It previews from 11th December and is set to run until Spring 2007.

It will also be the first time that the story of the “Perceval Correspondence” has been on public display in the UK. The story was discovered in America last year. When Bletchley Park Post Office volunteers attended a stamp show in Michigan they met Dan Shilcrat from Arizona. He mentioned some correspondence he owned addressed to PO Box 111 Bletchley. A top-secret undercover postal address for Bletchley Park’s code breakers during World War Two.

Although the correspondence contained no secrets it revealed a fascinating story. Days before World War Two was declared Dick Perceval’s German wife Sorina moved to Zurich, Switzerland. Dick, a distant relative of assassinated British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, was later recruited into military intelligence and one of his undercover addresses was PO Box 111 Bletchley. Mail was even routed to him via Berlin but Bletchley Park’s vital code breaking activity was never revealed. The display covers their post and telegram communication from 1939 to 1945. Despite holding British citizenship, Sorina was unable to return to England because of a visit to her German sons by a previous marriage. The display also tells how business and personal mail was sent using undercover addresses so that enemy agents could not pinpoint locations.

In addition to the exhibition visitors can also visit the wartime post office where Bletchley Park’s secret mail was once sorted as well as many other on site displays.
ENDS

Note to Editors:
Bletchley Park Post Office is sponsoring the exhibition. This once secret mailroom became a sub post office in 1947 when the General Post Office (GPO) took the park over as a training centre. Code breaking operations moved to GCHQ, Cheltenham.

“Moving the Mail” is provided by the British Postal Museum and Archive from its extensive collection of Post Office/Royal Mail vehicles and artefacts.

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