Alan Turing’s stolen items to be returned after 38 years

Alan Turing worked at Bletchley Park during the war period
Alan Turing's stolen items include OBE memorabilia that Turing received for his work at Bletchley Park. Source: Wikipedia Commons

By Luthien Evans | News Editor

Renowned Second World War codebreaker, Alan Turing’s items are to be returned to Sherborne School in Dorset, where Turing boarded as a student. 

Seventeen items were initially stolen in the 1980s from Sherborne School, by Julia Turing, who bears no relation to Alan Turing. She removed the items from Sherborne School’s archives, without permission. 

They were found in her home in Colorado in 2018 after she offered the items to the University of Colorado for displaying purposes- she claimed that she was a distant relative. A police investigation then followed. 

 A US Civil Court Case against her has now been settled out of court, resulting in the return of the items.

Among the items to be returned are school reports, photographs, a letter presenting Turing with his OBE honour from King George VI, as well as his Princeton University PhD certificate from 1938. The six school reports spanned from 1924 to 1932, displaying his academic successes from between the ages of 12 and 18. His OBE medal is also being returned, Turing was rewarded this for secret war service in the Foreign Office in 1946. 

Rachel Hassall, Sherborne School archivist, has spoken on the topic of the lost items, stating, ‘”We are sorry that by removing the material from the school archives Ms Turing has denied generations of pupils and researchers the opportunity to consult it. However, once the material was returned to the school she said it would be available to be viewed in person or via the school archives website.”

Who is Alan Turing?

Alan Turing was a mathematician born in 1912. After studying Mathematics at the University of Cambridge in 1931, he became a fellow at King’s College. He later completed a PhD at Princeton University.

Once arriving back in Britain, Turing joined the Government Code and Cypher School in 1938. Following the outbreak of the war, he moved to the organization’s wartime headquarters at Bletchley Park. This is where his most famous contributions to mathematics and cryptanalysis occurred. 

His work was pivotal to breaking messages encrypted by the German cipher system. This discovery earned Turing an OBE. 

In 1952, Alan Turing’s life changed. He was convicted of ‘gross indecency’, or homosexuality, a crime at the time. He was sentenced to 12 months of hormone ‘therapy’ and could never work for the GCHQ again due to his criminal record. In 1954, Turing died of cyanide poisoning, it was ruled a suicide. 

It wasn’t until 2009 that the Government, under Gordon Brown, apologised for Turing’s treatment and in 2013 was granted a royal pardon from Queen Elizabeth II. 

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