Woman honoured for aiding Hitler's downfall

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 23/11/2012
Ursula Frost
JESS ETHERIDGE/ Fairfax NZ
SPECIAL SERVICE: Northcote woman Ursula Frost was a codebreaker during World War II. Jonathan Coleman, MP for Northcote, will be presenting her with a special badge honouring her services.

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Ursula Frost remembers the day Winston Churchill arrived at Bletchley Park to tell her and other Enigma codebreakers they had helped end World War II.

''Churchill came down and told us we'd ended the war by two years. We were very pleased to hear that,'' the 95-year-old Aucklander says.

''He came down and saw us twice which we always thought was great, rather. He didn't have all that time to do those sort of things.''

Frost will be thanked for her services when Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman presents her with a special badge from the United Kingdom next Friday at Auckland rest home.

But why she is receiving the badge after 67 years is also an enigma, she said.

Frost worked for section M18 during the war, cracking German army and air force codes under computer maverick Alan Turing.

He was a bright-minded, ''very nice chap'', she says, but they never spoke of his codebreaking secrets.

''It was very confidential. Don't forget, all walls have ears. Because people would try to get things out of you, try to get you to spill the beans.''

The then-23-year-old learned  to speak fluent French and Greek and was recruited as a traffic analyst at Beaumanor Hall before moving to Bletchley Park.

''I spoke Greek, modern Greek, and if you spoke modern Greek you had some brains.''

She studied German communications, call signs frequencies and timings, and lengths of transmission, which built up a picture of the enemy's organisation and  routine .

''It was jolly tiring,'' she says, as she often worked 24-hour shifts.

Frost moved to New Zealand in 1952. That same year her old boss Turing was prosecuted for homosexuality in Britain.

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown made a public apology in 2009 for how Turing had been treated.

''I think he should have got a public apology. Quite all for it,'' Frost said.

She is pleased with her life but is unsure about the hooplah being made about her time during the war.

''I don't think I deserve it because it's all so long ago, it's all forgotten.''

''But then I said: 'Oh, OK then, that's very nice','' she said.

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