Saturday, February 18, 2017

Kevin O'Neill in 1945

I was recently reading The Emperor's Codes, Michael Smith's 2011 book about the Allied effort to break Japanese codes during the Second World War, and to my surprise I ran across a 1945 photo that shows Kevin O'Neill, the Bletchley Park veteran who later became the Director of CBNRC/Chief of CSE.

O'Neill, who finished the war with the rank of Major in the British Army, worked on the Tunny problem, among other systems, during his time at Bletchley. But by 1945 he was part of the British liaison team at the U.S. Army's Signal Security Agency at Arlington Hall in Washington.

For reasons not clear to me, he appears in this photo (second from the right) with members of the British liaison office at the U.S. Navy's code-breaking agency, OP-20-G, which was located at the Naval Communications Annex. Note how, aside from civilian Wilfred (not William) Bodsworth, everyone in the photo other than O'Neill is in naval uniform.

O'Neill and John Manson, another British Army Major serving at the Signal Security Agency, were recruited by Ed Drake in 1946, becoming part of CBNRC's initial staff. Manson died in 1952, but O'Neill remained with the agency for his entire career, becoming the Director of CBNRC in 1971 and retiring as Chief of CSE in 1980.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bill
Just came across this as I Googled my father’s name. I am indeed Kevin O’Neill’s daughter and have a copy of this photo myself
I don’t want to use my Google acc’t, just a bit of a hassle, but if you do read this (5 years after your post) you can reach me via the Contact Me link on my website
I do have more info on my father, though of course his career was never discussed with me during his lifetime

July 31, 2022 1:38 pm  

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