The Sound of the Bombe
Thanks to the truly magnificent efforts of John Harper and the
Bombe Rebuild Project team, 60 years after the British bombes were
broken up, the sound of the Turing bombe can once again be heard
at Bletchley Park.
Below, you will find a link to an audio recording of the rebuilt
bombe. The recording was made at Bletchley Park in September 2006
and is placed here with the kind permission of John and the rebuild
The recording was originally made in high quality 16 bit 44.1 kHz
.wav format but this resulted in a file of almost 33 MB. The recording
presented here was derived from the original recording and is a
128 kbps .mp3 file of almost 3 MB. Although the size of the file
has thus been greatly reduced there is no appreciable reduction
in the quality of the recording.
The recording, which starts when the bombe is already running,
runs for 3 minutes and 15 seconds. The mechanism which turns over
the middle rows of drums and which sounds rather like a shuttle
in a mechanical loom, can be heard over the background hum of the
fast drums. 2 minutes and 25 seconds into the recording the bombe
senses a stop and halts. The operator cuts the power about three
quarters of a minute later.
Audrey Wind, a former WREN, who operated a bombe named Split
in the Yugoslavia bay at Eastcote, tells me that the Bombe Rebuild
at Bletchley Park produces less noise than the bombes at Eastcote,
partly, of course, due to the larger number of machines running
simultaneously in wartime conditions and partly due to the concrete
floor at Eastcote which acted as an acoustic reflector.
The sound of the first Turing bombe, named Victory, was
first heard operationally on the 14th March 1940 in Hut 1 at Bletchley
Park. To listen to the sound of the Turing Bombe Rebuild, click
on the link below:
The Sound of the Turing Bombe