Trinity graduate honoured for World War II code-breaking work

Eileen Leslie Greer worked at Bletchley Park, the centre for code-breaking and intelligence-analysis during the war.


Trinity College Dublin alumna Eileen Leslie Greer was honoured with the Bletchley Park commemorative badge last week for the code-breaking work she did during World War II. Mrs Greer was part of Bletchley Park’s top-secret team of intelligence analysts during the war.

The award was presented to 98-year-old Greer by the British ambassador to Ireland, Dominick Chilcott, at St Mary’s Home, Pembroke Park, where she lives.

She was also presented with a certificate, expressing the British government’s “deepest gratitude for the vital service you performed during World War II.”

Before the war Greer attended Alexandra College and later Trinity College. Greer graduated from Trinity with a first class honours in German. After her studies were finished she became a German lecturer in Queen’s University Belfast.

When the war broke out Greer put herself forward to help. In an interview with The Irish Times, she stated that: “It occurred to me that there was the war going on and it seemed to me that the war was more serious than teaching German.”

Due to her knowledge of the German language she was offered a place at Bletchley Park. Bletchley Park was the centre for code-breaking and intelligence-analysing during the war. It is at Bletchley Park that Alan Turing and his team created the Enigma machine that broke the German code. Greer’s job was to write intelligence reports on the then decrypted German army and air force signals.

In a College press release, Eunan O’Halpin, Professor of Contemporary Irish History at Trinity, commented: “Leslie Greer’s Bletchley Park badge and certificate of honour but do not fully reflect her work in Britain’s vital code-breaking operations, which tends to be acknowledged generically under the heading of ‘women’s contributions’ as though all females were filing clerks, typists or machine operators. She was a German language specialist, initially concentrating on the tedious but vital tasks of categorising and indexing decoded German military messages. Her talents were soon recognised, and she was selected to be one of a small group who regularly advised the code-breakers on what enemy traffic they should concentrate on.”

Greer worked at the code-breaking centre at Bletchley Park from 1941 to 1945. Post-war, she continued working for the Foreign Office and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her wartime achievements.

When asked about the award, Greer expressed her excitement: “Who wouldn’t be excited getting a medal.”