Talk on Tamworth Enigma hero who helped shorten WW2

Aug 23, 2012 by Ross

Colin Grazier pictured on his wedding day – he was only to enjoy two days of married life before setting out on a mission which was to claim his life but shorten the war.

A special talk on Tamworth war hero Colin Grazier is being held in the town hall from 7.30pm on Friday, August 31 to mark the 70th anniversary year of one of the most extraordinary stories ever to come out of WW2.

Able Seaman Colin Grazier (22) and First Lieutenant Tony Fasson (29) drowned capturing vital German codebooks from a German U-boat. They were helped by a 16-year-old canteen assistant, Tommy Brown, who survived the incident only to die in a house fire two years later.

The precious documents they seized in October, 1942 enabled Bletchley Park’s codebreakers to break the German Enigma naval code and shorten the war by at least a year.
But the mission was kept top secret for decades and not even the men’s families knew their actions had proved so decisive in gaining victory.

Former Tamworth Herald deputy editor Phil Shanahan has campaigned to win public recognition for the men. His book The Real Enigma Heroes tells their amazing story and the 10-year fight to honour them.

Phil presented Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall with a copy of the book after showing them around an exhibition about the story at Bletchley Park. He also had the honour of officially opening the restored Hut 8 where the Enigma code was finally cracked. The Tamworth Herald campaign he led won the three biggest awards for campaigning regional journalism in the UK.

“I had many happy years at the Tamworth Herald and this was far and away the best story I ever worked on during my career in journalism.

“It is an incredible story, both tragic and inspiring, but there are also some lighter moments that I will be touching on,”

Said Phil who now runs his own business, Enigma Communications, specialising in publicity, photography and professional writing services.

Tickets, priced £6.50, for the talk and slide show are available from Tamworth Information Centre in Corporation Street – telephone 01827 709581.

Phil Shanahan will be back in the town hall during the weekend of September 1-2 manning a special exhibition and signing copies of his book, The Real Enigma Heroes, as part of the annual heritage weekend.

He will be joined by David Steadman, a senior guide from Bletchley Park who will be bringing a genuine German Enigma machine for local people to see.  Phil continued,

“This is a very rare opportunity to see an Enigma machine in Tamworth, and is only happening because of the town’s strong links with the story,”

“It’s marvellous that David is doing this and I hope local people take the opportunity to come and see this extraordinary WW2 relic which now has such significance to Tamworth.”

2012 is the 70th anniversary year of the secret mission which turned the tide of history. The exact date of the anniversary falls on October 30.

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  1. Bec

    Shhh, the US like to believe they boarded the German U-boat …

    Films like U-571 should come with a warning at the beginning, so the audience know that it’s just US propaganda.

    Or better still a UK film company should tell the true story, and shame Hollywood.

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