Book Review: Bletchley Park’s Secret Source: Churchill’s Wrens and the Y Service in World War II

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author, biographer, and obituarist Peter Hore ( published the book Bletchley Park’s Secret Source: Churchill’s Wrens and the Y Service in World War II on March 23, 2021. 

I received an ARC of this novel through in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this book as ‘G’. The book tells the story of the British Wrens who worked in the Y Service during WWII.

The part that Bletchley Park played in WWII is now well known. Their ability to decrypt Axis messages gave the Allies a huge advantage. This book looks at the source of many of those messages. Specifically, that is the Y Service or Radio Intercept Service. The Y Service was the code name for the British radio intercept stations. Most were located along the British coast, but some were located in remote spots around the world. 

Most of the staff responsible for capturing and taking down the messages were young WRNS. The WRNS pronounced ‘wrens’ was the Women’s Royal Naval Service. WWI saw the creation of the WRNS but it was disbanded after the war. In 1939 the WRNS were revived at the beginning of WWII. 

Intercepted Axis messages captured by the Y Service as well as from hundreds of civilian volunteers. The messages were then forwarded to Station X – Bletchley Park for decoding. 

The book talks about the Wrens’ recruitment and their struggle with uniforms in the early days of the way. Wrens with language fluency were recruited for Special Duties at the intercept stations. Some lived with civilian families or in hotels. Others in a Wrennery – a dormitory for the Wrens. Some stations were in or near large towns while others were on the remote coastline of Brittain. 

The book follows the wartime career of a few individual Wrens. Most made it through the war, but the Wrens did suffer casualties. The book tells how girls in their late teens and early twenties left home for months. They worked in isolation because of the Official Secrets Act. The Wrens received little recognition for their years of service. They were significant contributors to the Allied success in WWII. This book gives them their much-needed recognition. 

I enjoyed the 8 hours I spent reading this 324-page WWII history. This was a very interesting book. I learned a lot about the Y Service. I like the selected cover art. I give this book a 4 out of 5.

If this book interests you you might also want to read Codebreaker Girls: A Secret Life at Bletchley Park, Code Wars: How ‘Ultra’ and ‘Magic’ Led to Allied Victory, or listen to the Bletchley Park Podcast.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (

If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 520 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.