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Couple who found secret Nazi messages under floorboards on mission to crack code

A couple found secret WW2 German messages under their floorboards and are trying to crack the puzzle with help of a 95-year-old Bletchley Park code breaker.

John and Val Campbell discovered a cache of wartime items hidden by a Nazi soldier in the 1940s.

It included cigarette packets, matches, a shampoo sachet, a fuse wire pack, throat pastilles – and even brothel passes.

But there was also an envelope addressed to Ernst Buchtela and pieces of mice-bitten paper – covered in German code.

The couple realised they were left by a German soldier who was billeted in the home in occupied Guernsey during the war.

And now they have enlisted the help of neighbour Marj Dodsworth, 95 to decipher it.

Marj worked extensively on Alan Turing’s electro-mechanical bombe machine built to crack the Enigma code.

The WW2 code breaker is now speaking for the first time about her role after having to keep it secret for 70 years.

Marj was able to examine the Campbell’s code – the first time since the war she has seen it since the war.

Sadly she says she’d need a Bombe machine to be able to crack it.

Marj said: “When I first saw it I thought there’s no way without a machine. There’s not a cat’s chance I’d be able to do it.

“The machines were big, noisy, oily, dirty and so large I could barely touch the top.”

Mrs Dodsworth joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service – familiarly known as Wrens – in 1943, aged 18.

She said: “At that age you had to register either for work or the services. Unless you weren’t fit you were conscripted.

“My father was in the Navy, although the Wrens were voluntary. With him in the Navy I got in without any problems.

“Otherwise it was war work, like munitions, which I didn’t want to do.”

For six weeks she did introductory training, which involved lots of potato peeling.

“There were 800 of us where I was, but three or four more outstations.

”What we did was passed on to Bletchley by teleprinter. We did exactly the same work and used the same machines.”

“When I went home my parents were worried and wondered why my hands were nicked, but I couldn’t tell them where I was.

“When we signed the act, it was for life, but after 50 years we were notified that the Official Secrets Act was no longer enforced.

“My parents died never knowing what I did during the war.”