The Cryptic Crossword that Recruited for Bletchley Park
Bletchley Park was the home of code breakers in England during the war. Mathematicians and communication specialists were brought together and it was here that the Enigma was cracked due to Alan Turing and his team. It can also be considered the birthplace of the electronic computer.
Of course the whole operation was completely secret; I have a quick anecdote about this. In 1941 Agatha Christie penned a novel called N or M? In it there appeared an old army officer called Major Bletchley, but at the time only the people working at the Park or at the War Office officially knew the location. One of Christie's close friends was the codebreaker Dilly Knox and MI5 interviewed Knox to condemn him for spilling the secret to Christie, but he maintained that he had not. Knox invited Christie around for tea to try and straighten out the situation. On asking why she had named the army character Bletchley she replied "Bletchley? My dear, I was stuck there on my way by train from Oxford to London and took revenge by giving the name to one of my least lovable characters." MI5 were relieved and dropped the issue.
In 1942 the Telegraph newspaper had been receiving letters complaining that the cryptic crosswords they had been publishing were too easy and that they could be solved in a few minutes. The editor thought that this couldn't be true and so arranged to have a time challenge: to solve the crossword in 12 minutes under test conditions. Many people came along and five finished in the time allotted. The next day the crossword was published in the paper so that the general public could try their own wits against the timed puzzle.
Recruitment for a position in an organisation that had to remain a secret was necessarily difficult. However the war office were looking in on the test and a few weeks after the event each of the fastest solvers received a letter inviting them to work at Bletchley. I like the feeling that if I keep solving puzzles then I might one day get a call from some shadowy government department. Looking at you GCHQ Christmas Quiz. (I won't accept of course. I'm a pacifist who loves my current job as a maths teacher.)
Anyway, the natural question is can you solve the puzzle in 12 minutes? I could not. Be warned that this Cryptic was written before the strict Ximenean standards of today. Some of the clues get you to do an anagram with no indicator and others don't have a definition for you to try to get to. Right 12 minutes, off you go. (Answers below.)