Betty O’Connell Death – Obituary – Betty O’Connell, one of the last known surviving connections with the world war II code-breaking machine Colossus Mk I, has passed away, just one day before her 96th birthday.
Due to WW II, Betty was unable to finish her university education, then she volunteered to join Wren (a member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service). She was selected to work at Bletchley Park in 1942 due to her ability to solve crossword puzzles. The section is set up under Max Newman to automate.
In December 1943, Colossus Mk I started decoding German Lorenz messages in February 1944.
In an interview with Betty, she said, “I joined the electric vehicle association with some trepidation, knowing absolutely nothing about electric vehicles. However, I was encouraged by my family, who thought I had many of the attributes of a battery: ever-ready, highly charged, expensive to replace, portable, and not given to gas.”
Her crossword skills never left her till her death. Three days before her death she was still deciphering the answers.
TNMOC posted to Twitter page;
“Sad to hear the passing of Betty O’Connell, one of the last surviving links with Colossus Mk I – built to crack the encrypted communications of Hitler’s high command. Betty (pictured right) was on the first team to operate the Mk I.”