Diana Fawkes (nee Weir)
Wonderful news about a former Compton resident!
On Thursday 23 July, Diana was awarded the Bletchley Park Commemorative Badge, certificate and Freedom of Bletchley Park in a small ceremony, conducted by Jonathan Byrne, Oral History Officer of the Bletchley Park Trust.
Diana is the oldest daughter of Wing Commander Graham Weir and his wife Mamie – (who gifted the Mamie Weir Wing to Brendoncare’s Old Parsonage home in Otterbourne where Diana now lives.). She had a good ear for languages, and learnt German in Munich and Austrian in a concentrated period of six months in 1936. She then took a commercial German course back in London and got her German and secretarial certificate.
She was recruited to act as secretary and assistant to Dilly Knox, the head of cryptography at GC&CS (later named GCHQ) who was already working to crack the Enigma Code in 1938. Initially based in offices in St. James, London, the very small team moved in the summer of 1938 to the newly acquired Bletchley Park. This was both home and office in the early months, and the building was ill equipped. Diana tells of not only having to share a desk, but also her bed with another secretary! Meanwhile the beautiful lawns were beginning to be dug up to build the famous ‘huts’. Diana worked with Dilly Knox on schemes to decipher the Enigma Code and used her fluent German to translate messages.
After a break in the winter of 1939 when she took a last chance to go ski racing in Switzerland, she returned to join MI5, and worked in contrasting conditions – first in the normal Thames House office, then in Wormwood Scrubbs prison as it was considered safer, and then they moved again to Blenheim Palace to avoid the Blitz!
Diana married George (Edward George Dalton) Fawkes, a Royal Navy chaplain in 1942, and after a spell of living in South Africa, moved to Compton in 1958 where her husband became rector of All Saints, living in Compton Rectory and where they brought up their two children Caroline and Nigel. In 1973 when he retired, they moved to Twyford and now aged 101, Diana is living in the Old Parsonage.
Nigel Fawkes, son of Diana
This article appeared in the September 2015 Parish Magazine