Bletchley Park veteran receives Commemorative Badge from British Ambassador
News article - 25 January 2016
Ms Leslie Greer was born in London in 1917. Her mother was a motorcycle messenger for the RFC (the forerunner to the RAF) and her father was a barrister. Her grandfather was a Professor of Classics in Trinity College Dublin.
Educated in Dublin and gifted in modern European languages, Ms Greer recalls being sent to school in central Germany for a time, where on one occasion they were addressed by Hitler. She went on to study modern languages at Trinity College Dublin, concentrating on German and French. After graduating in 1939 she worked briefly as a lecturer in Queens University Belfast before being encouraged to go for a job interview in London in 1940, aged 23. There she was interviewed and told she would be working at a place called Bletchley, but that they ‘couldn’t possibly’ tell her on what. She recalls no formal induction or pre-training, adding that the food at Bletchley Park was 'appalling!'.
She was set to work indexing material sent from Hut 6 and was part of a small group of people about six strong, who read German traffic and 'knew what it all meant’. They would meet fairly regularly to say what they thought Hut 6 should be looking for, and give them advice on what might be 'useful’, as she put it. She saw Churchill when he came to congratulate staff and urge them on, and was struck by 'how small he was'.
In 1945 she was asked if she would like to learn Japanese but declined, offering instead to do POW interrogations in Germany, but there was no vacancy for her. Instead, anxious to get out of worn-out, battered England, she went to work in India for the British Council, as a civilian.
She was awarded an MBE working for the British Council in Israel where she met her husband. They retired to the South of France, but returned to Ireland in later life. Ms Greer's story came to light after she was interviewed by Professor Eunan O'Halpin, an Irish historian at Trinity College, who kindly contacted GCHQ to highlight that she qualified for recognition of her war service. Her commemorative badge - the 3328th awarded to veterans who served at Bletchley Park - was presented by the British Ambassador to Ireland, Dominick Chilcott, at a small reception at Ms Greer's South Dublin care home on 19 January 2016.