Mansfield Woodhouse bricklayer who was a Bletchley Park veteran dies

A Mansfield Woodhouse bricklayer who kept his role in the Bletchley Park code-breaking circle during the Second World War secret has died with coronavirus aged 98.

Friday, 5th February 2021, 4:02 pm

Great-grandfather Wilfred ‘Wilf’ Bingley died at Kings Mill Hospital on Friday, January 22.

For decades, Wilf, ‘a clever, quiet man,’ worked as a bricklayer at Harold Ashley and Son’s Ltd, in Mansfield Woodhouse.

His colleagues had no inkling of his secret life,

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Wilf Bingley, who was a Bletchley Park code breaker.

Bletchley Park was at the heart of Allied code-breaking during the Second World War, and is now a museum, where Wilf features in its ‘roll of honour.’

According to Bletchley Park, Wilf was not a ‘code-breaker’ as such, but based in the ‘Y Service’ ,as a Royal Navy Wireless Operator, at a secret intercept site, ‘Y station,’ in Scarborough.

His job was to listen to enemy radio communications, writing down the apparently random five-letter groups of Morse code. The messages were enciphered with the Enigma machine.

The messages were sent to Bletchley Park and deciphered messages provided vital intelligence for the Allies. In April 1944, with D-Day looming, Wilf was one of 24 wireless operators ‘Party X’, who set up a ‘Y station’ at Bletchley Park. Intercepted enemy messages could then be delivered to code-breakers more quickly.

Wilf Bingley, who was a Bletchley Park code breaker.

By July, with the Allies established in Normandy, Wilf and colleagues returned to Scarborough until 1945 and served for a time after the War at Kiel in Germany.

His daughter Elaine Hall, of Mansfield Woodhouse, said: “Dad was wonderful, he was quiet, kind and so clever, he loved puzzles, and was brilliant at maths.

"He kept it a secret about Bletchley Park, even to my mum, Barbara, she didn’t know much until a TV programme came on called ‘Station X.’ Dad piped up, ‘I worked there. I can tell you now it’s been on the telly!’”

Elaine Hall - daughter of Wilf Bingley, who was a Bletchley Park code breaker.

Wilf was born on November 14, in 1922, on Arthur Street and lived on Meden Row, from 1946-2019. He was resident at Red Oaks Care Home for 15 months.

Elaine said: “He came from a poor background, one of 13 children. He could have gone to grammar school but the family couldn’t afford for him to go, so he worked in a foundry, then as a bricklayer, at Ashley’s, where his dad Herbert worked. He was there about 40 years, no-one knew he’d worked with the code-breaker Alan Turing.”

Family friend Jean Daws said: “My husband Geoff worked with Wilf for years. We went on a trip to Bletchley and the guide said they had a person from Mansfield Woodhouse. You could have knocked us down with a feather! My husband said ‘I worked with him, all those years! We never knew!”

Bletchley Park’s director of public engagement Rebecca Foy said: “We were saddened to hear the news of the recent passing of Wilfred Bingley, known to us due to his wartime connections to Bletchley Park.

"A huge debt of gratitude is owed to those that worked at Bletchley Park and its outstations during World War Two and we hope our work at Bletchley Park will help share their important stories and the impact and legacy of the essential work done here for the future.”

Wilf is on Bletchley Park’s ‘Codebreakers’ Wall’ – commemorated on a brick.

He leaves a son and daughter, six grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.