Bletchley Park war hero dies aged 104

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Intelligence analyst Jimmy Thirsk, who worked with Enigma Code crackers at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, has died aged 104.

Tributes have been paid to the man, thought to be Hadlow’s oldest resident, who passed away ‘peacefully’ on Saturday, June 2.

Mr Thirsk, who was born on May 30, 1914, is survived by his son, Martin, and daughter, Jane, four grandchildren, Tom, James, Tim and Kate, and a sister, Betty.

Born in Hull, Mr Thirsk spent his early life in East Yorkshire. In 1942 he joined the Intelligence Corps without knowing what to expect, after he responded to an un-ironically cryptic advertisement.

It turned out to be a good move. The analyst spent three years at Bletchley, where he tracked the movement of the German army and air force networks across Europe.

His clever detective work and analysis of German communication helped secure important information of how the enemy was operating.

In that time he met his wife Joan, who translated communications from German to English. The pair also assisted cryptographers who were deciphering Hitler’s Enigma Machine, an event recently showcased in the film The Imitation Game.

After the war, Mr Thirsk worked for years as a librarian and, with Joan, moved into a converted part of Hadlow Castle, off Tonbridge Road, when he was 60.

Joan, also a renowned historian, sadly died in Tunbridge Wells Hospital in 2013 aged 91.

Mr Thirsk was a regular contributor to articles but always remained modest about his own achievements.

In later life he wrote three books: A Beverley Child’s Great War (2000), Boyhood in Beverley: A Mosaic of the 1920s (2004) and a memoir of his wartime service, Bletchley Park: An Inmate’s Story (2008).

His daughter Jane Robinson told reporters: ‘He was a gentle, very calm person. Not at all rustled and never got anxious or angry.’

Funeral details are yet to be confirmed.

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