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Guest blogger: Alli Sinclair

18 April 2021

The Codebreakers

When I first learned about the Garage Girls and Central Bureau, it felt like a treasure trove of endless stories had been unearthed. Female codebreakers in Australia in World War II? Who were they? What did they do? Why had we not heard about them before? My investigating led me into an amazing world and I’ve met and interviewed many fascinating and courageous people who worked for Central Bureau and other signals intelligence departments and outposts. They generously shared stories not only about the work, but their personal experiences of living with secrets and how it affected their lives during and after the war.

People who worked top-secret jobs during the war often felt there was an invisible wedge in the relationships with their loved ones. For those families, to know someone for decades and learn about this other life they led was sometimes shocking and hard to fathom but, more often, it was a source of immense pride. Learning about the reaction of family and friends, and the relief of Central Bureau members after they could finally tell their story, gave me great insight when creating the characters in The Codebreakers.

Many of the real-life women of Central Bureau had never lived away from home or experienced any degree of independence. When they joined this elite organisation most were young, often without tertiary qualifications but with natural aptitude for the work they did. Not only did they learn new skills and adapt to working in non-traditional roles in a male-dominated environment, they had other challenges to deal with such as homesickness, the grief of losing loved ones and the heavy responsibility of working with some of the country’s biggest secrets.

Of course, where there are men and women, romance is sure to bloom and one particular thread was inspired by real-life couple Coral Osborne and Corporal Sandy Hinds. They met at Central Bureau and when Sandy was posted to the Philippines they continued their courtship through the codes sent between their departments. They had a long and beautiful marriage that lasted for over six decades until Sandy sadly passed away in 2007.

Alli and Coral

It’s been an honour to write The Codebreakers and shine light on this unknown part of Australian history. And it’s also been a joy to see readers engage with their story and help the legacy of these amazing people live on.

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The Codebreakers

They will dedicate their lives to their country, but no one will ever know …

A compelling story about tenacity and friendship, inspired by the real codebreaking women of Australia’s top-secret Central Bureau in WWII. For readers who love Judy Nunn and Kate Quinn.

1943, Brisbane: The war continues to devastate and the battle for the Pacific threatens Australian shores. For Ellie O’Sullivan, helping the war effort means utilising her engineering skills for Qantas as they evacuate civilians and deliver supplies to armed forces overseas. Her exceptional logic and integrity attract the attention of Central Bureau – an intelligence organisation working with England’s Bletchley Park codebreakers. But joining Central Bureau means signing a lifetime secrecy contract. Breaking it is treason.

With her country’s freedom at risk, Ellie works with a group of elite women who enter a world of volatile secrets; deciphering enemy communications to change the course of the war. Working under immense pressure, they form a close bond—yet there could be a traitor in their midst. Can the women uncover the culprit before it’s too late?

As Ellie struggles with the magnitude of the promise she’s made to her country, a wedge grows between her and those she holds dear. When the man she loves asks questions she’s forbidden to answer, how will she prevent the double life she’s leading from unravelling?

‘An intriguing story of courage, friendship and resilience.’—Belinda Alexandra

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 19 April 2021 7:22 am

    Terrific post!

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