I had the very great pleasure today of attending a book launch by my colleague and former CSFG President David Dufty. Unusually for my circles, the launch was for a work of historical non-fiction, concerning Australia’s involvement in the Allies’ wartime code-breaking efforts against the Japanese, and was held at the Australian War Memorial.
The book’s full name gives a pretty clear picture of what to expect. The Secret Code-Breakers of Central Bureau: how Australia’s signals-intelligence network helped win the Pacific War.
I recall when David first started talking openly about writing this book, probably three or four years ago now. He was very excited to learn of a whole untold story of the war, and of a contribution overshadowed in particular by the more widely-known story of Bletchley Park and its famous (and famously eccentric) code-breaking maths geniuses.
If there’s one thing I know about David, it’s that when he gets an idea stuck in his head he flattens his ears and chases it down every possible rabbit hole. He all but disappeared off the speculation fiction radar while he researched and wrote Code-Breakers.
And now, after years of tireless research, interviews and dogged investigation, he’s produced a hefty account of the history of Brisbane’s Central Bureau and the men and women who worked there.
I’m hardly a war buff, but I am excited to learn something new about a part of Australia’s modern history which until recently was intentionally kept under wraps. As David puts it in his prologue:
During the post-war decades, they were all bound by the Official Secrets Act and forbidden from telling anyone what they had done during the war. They did not participate in annual ANZAC Day marches for 30 years. For decades, there was no official acknowledgment of their vital contribution to the war effort.
I’m pleased for David to have completed this impressive work. No doubt it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to telling this story, but knowing David’s attention to detail, I’m confident it’s an excellent account and as comprehensive as possible, so many years after the fact. I’m looking forward to digging into it as soon as I can.
The Secret Code-Breakers of the Central Bureau is available from Scribe Books in hardcover or for ebook format from Amazon and iBooks.