Aged 18 Peter was destined to study classics at Cambridge University, but with WWII continuing his path was altered.
“When Japan attacked in 1941 there was a serious shortage of knowledge of the Japanese language throughout the UK so a lot of people who had read classics at school and university were thought to be the most suitable to adapt themselves to learning Japanese.
“I was invited to join a six month course held in Bedford where there were about 24 of us, all of whom learnt Japanese. At the end of the course we were all able to read the language but not speak it. From here we were sent to Bletchley. Upon arrival I joined the Japanese Military Section where we studied the order of battle of the Japanese Army, which was, of course, spread across the Far East.
“My particular specialty was a Japanese gazetteer. The Japanese language uses a lot of Chinese characters but they are pronounced very differently. I would look up the Chinese characters and convert them to their Japanese pronunciations. ”
Life at Bletchley
“I was 19 by the time I arrived at Bletchley in September 1944 and I stayed there until February 1946.
“Life at Bletchley was extremely lively, there was a great deal of talent among us. We were often treated to wonderful musical and theatrical performances and enjoyed many, many dances.
“We were completely silent about our work at that time, as we had been told to be by the officers, so at the end of the day there was no talk of shop and instead we all got together to enjoy our life as young people.
“I didn’t know it at the time but my future wife also worked at Bletchley at the same time as me as a WREN (Women’s Royal Naval Service). In fact, she had been doing similar work to my fellow resident at Hale Court, Joyce.”
The end of the war and life today
“When the end of the war was announced we were all gathered outside the main house where the bosses worked and listened through a loudspeaker to a man called Nigel de Grey. He told us war was over but that we mustn’t speak of our work to anyone after we left. It wasn’t until 1974 when we were first allowed to talk about what we did at Bletchley.
“I stayed on in the army for two years after the war and after that I was married and had two sons who I now live near to and see very regularly.”
Peter decided to move to Hale Court after his wife died.
“I used to visit her at the nursing home everyday but after she died I decided I would like to live closer to my sons. The best thing about living at Hale Court is having the stress and strain of everyday life taken off your shoulders. I used to take great pride in gardening and it pained me to have to relinquish that responsibility to a gardener. Nowadays I can enjoy the garden at Hale Court without worrying if the lawn needs mowing.”
Today, you can find Peter enjoying a weekly game of scrabble with Joyce or exploring his creative side at a regular art club held at Hale Court.
When we asked Peter’s top tip for living a long life he said, “Do as much as you’re able to for as long as you possibly can.”