Why the World Should be Thankful to WWII Hero Alan Turing

Most people do not know WWII hero Alan Turing. However, that must change.

First of all, the fact that you are reading this write-up in a computer, well, you have this WWII hero to thank for that.

Majority of the world’s population are not familiar with the name of WWII hero Alan Turing. However, that must come to an end. After all, if not for him, we wouldn’t be enjoying the advancements brought about by computers or even artificial intelligence in general.

WWII hero Alan Turing was a prodigious British mathematician, a logician, cryptanalyst and one of the very first computer scientists. As a matter of fact, computer science and artificial intelligence are attributed to this WWII hero, him, being a pioneer worker of these fields.

WWII hero Alan Turing was the one who designed and programmed the first ever commercial computer known to the world. Additionally, the WWII hero invented the Turing Machine in 1935. Modern computers are all modeled from this said device even to this day.

Exigently, he was a vital contributor to the building of The Bombe. This was an electro-mechanical apparatus which gave tremendous help to the breaking of what was thought then as the unbreakable Enigma code. This Enigma code was used by the Nazis in all their major communications during the Second World War.

When 1942 rolled in, WWII hero Alan Turing’s team was decoding 39,000 messages made by the Nazis’ Enigma machines per month. After a short span of time, that number rose to 84,000 which meant they were decoding about two Enigma messages in a minute.

Even WWII British Prime Minister Winston Churchill admitted to Alan Turing’s great contributions during the war. According to him, the WWII hero shortened the Second World War by at least two years, saving millions of lives in the process.

WWII hero Alan Turing at work.
WWII hero Alan Turing at work.

Not only was WWII hero Alan Turing able to decode the Enigma codes, he also was able to decrypt the Fish cipher. This was used by those in the German High Command, meaning, communications between Hitler himself to his officers in the field were in this code.

Technically-wise, WWII hero Alan Turing built the road leading to the modern world and lived it years before we did. Despite his many achievements and contributions during the war and after it, though, it took three decades for the depth of his help to be made known.

Of course, WWII hero Alan Turing did receive an OBE (Order of the British Empire) right after the war ended – in 1945. Nevertheless, it took three decades before the depth of his works were publicized. Last year was the 100th anniversary of the birth of this WWII hero.

You see, Alan Turing was a homosexual. And he was that in an era where being so was considered one of the greatest crimes. When his sexual orientation became known, the WWII hero lost his security clearance. Even his colleagues failed to come up to his defense, to support this genius as well as WWII hero. All the heroism and brilliance he showed throughout the Second World War was outmaneuvered by this single fact.

By 1952, WWII hero Alan Turing got convicted of acts of gross indecency. For his punishment, he was given two choices — imprisonment or the process they called chemical castration. Choosing the latter, Alan Turing was treated with estrogen injections, which gave him female breasts and made him impotent. Some believed he committed suicide because of this. The inquest about his death did determine that as the cause though his mother along with a few others thought his death due to cyanide poisoning was not self-inflicted but accidental. WWII hero Alan Turing died in 1954 days short of his 42nd birthday.

The British government is amending its shortcomings concerning this WWII hero. Just last year, the Queen gave the Math genius a long-overdue, posthumous Royal Pardon for his criminal conviction for homosexuality.

Benedict Cumberbatch and The Imitation Game cast, the biopic about WWII hero Alan Turing set to open late this year.
Benedict Cumberbatch (lead role) and The Imitation Game cast, the biopic about WWII hero Alan Turing set to open late this year.

On a brighter side, at least the wrongs were owned and amended. The world is now getting the idea of WWII hero Alan Turing’s brilliance. Most of all, as one of his colleagues had put it, it was very fortunate that the authorities knew of Turing’s homosexuality AFTER THE WAR. Or else, Britain, and even the Allies, might have not won WWII.

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE