Candidate Profile

Espionage & Intelligence
History - Military
Born in Willesden in 1951, John was an active ATC member, gained a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, and trained as a solo glider pilot, before becoming an RAF Volunteer Reserve Trainer. Having achieved many qualifications in Construction Management, John set up his own company, completing many prestigious contracts for the MOD.

During this time, John became a volunteer at Bletchley Park, the World War 2 Home of the Code-Breakers, shortly after the Trust was set up to ensure the preservation of the Park as a national monument. John became instrumental in setting up The Bletchley Park Post Office, which became one of the world’s most famous Post Offices. John has been a senior Tour Guide at Bletchley Park since 1998, entertaining thousands of visitors with anecdotes and revealing stories. In 2012, John also became a guide at Stowe House, and a volunteer for Stowe Preservation Trust.

As a registered after-dinner speaker with Speakers4u, John now speaks on many subjects relating to Bletchley Park, including the wartime Code-Breaking activities, Alan Turing, The Bletchley Girls, Ian Fleming, the life of Winston Churchill and the 'Special Operations Executive'

A member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides, John assisted with the Centenary Commemorations in France and Belgium from 2016-2018. John regularly gives talks at worldwide locations, including London Theatres, the Cornish Regimental Museum, Soroptimists International, St John’s College, and Rotary Groups. He has been a guest speaker to large audiences on cruise ships such as Cunard’s Caronia, QE2, Queen Elizabeth; Fred Olsen Balmoral, Braemar, Black Watch; P&O Arcadia, Aurora, Oceana, Oriana, Ventura; Viking Sea, Sky, Sun, Venus; Crown Princess; Saga Spirit of Discovery; Marella Discovery.

Lecture 1 - The Bletchley Park Story
Bletchley Park was a British Government cryptological establishment in operation during World War II. It was where Alan Turing and other agents decoded enemy secret messages, using Enigma and Tunny cypher machines. The history of the mansion highlights the five main reasons why Bletchley Park was chosen, and examines the importance of the work of the code breakers. Their great efforts shortened WW2 by up to two years, as accepted by respected historians.

Lecture 2 - The Bletchley Girls
We explain the vital roles that women took on at Bletchley Park. Women were selected from the Army, Air Force, Navy and civilian life. They were code breakers, machine operators, and linguists. Some of the women who worked at Bletchley Park are still alive today and many have told their stories. Remarkable women, remarkable lives.

Lecture 3 - The History of Code Breaking
We will look at how messages were concealed through the ages from Egyptian times through to the Caesar cypher used by the Romans. We will learn how techniques continued to advance up until the time of Mary Queen of Scots and the first secret service agents. We discuss how the advent of radio by Marconi increased the need to protect messages to a much greater degree. We tell the story of Arthur Scherbius, the techniques he patented in Enigma and how he sold this machine commercially before it was adopted by the German Navy. We conclude by describing the advent of the digital era with the Tunny system and how this led to the development of the first semi-programable computer - Colossus.

Lecture 4 - Pigeons at War
We describe the use of pigeons in communications during WW1, and WW2 and the links with the British Monarchy. Both Sandringham and Bletchley Park kept their own pigeon lofts. We discuss how they were used operationally by agents and the RAF to carry messages and the attempted preventative measures by the Germans. We include pictures of the pigeon exhibition at Bletchley Park with photographs of some famous birds who were presented with the Dicken Medal award for animal ‘bravery’. The pigeon spies will also be revealed. We conclude with reference to the recent discovery of a pigeon skeleton in Surrey to which an encoded message remained attached.

Lecture 5 – The Bletchley Park Post Office and Registry
During WW2, there was no Post Office at Bletchley Park, only a simple registry – letters in, letters out. The famous P.O. Box 111 and others will be explained from the stories of stamps, and First Day Covers issued from 1994 to the current day. These depict the work and achievements carried out by Bletchley Park, including Colossus, the first semi-programmable computer, The Battle of Matapan, and other world-changing events. We touch on the importance of letters, a special 21st birthday parcel, and the value of collecting in general.

Lecture 6 - Alan Turing's Life and 'The Imitation Game' - Fact or Fiction?
We will take a tour of Alan Turing’s life at Bletchley Park. His arrival, eccentricities, (bicycle, gas mask etc.) and involvement with the building of the Bombe machine. We relate the veteran’s memories of Turing and cover his life after the war until his tragic death. The filming that occurred at Bletchley Park and subsequent results compared to series like Downton Abbey. How war films like 'The Imitation Game' and similar, reflect the historical accuracies (or not) of the time.

Lecture 7 – The Special Operations Executive “SET EUROPE ABLAZE” said Winston Churchill
The history and formation of this most secret organization are outlined, from its conception through to its closure after the Millennium. Its purpose was sabotage and subversion. We will reveal the identities of the men and women in S.O.E, some of the undercover operations carried out in Europe, particularly the Mediterranean and the inevitable conflict with MI6. The deployment of S.O.E. in the world, whilst secret, is leaked here just enough to tempt. Some touching young agents’ stories will be revealed. No photos, or recordings at this talk.

Lecture 8 – Spies, Lies and Consequences – ‘The Man That Never Was’
A corpse floating in the sea off the coast of Spain sets off a trail of events that would change the course of WWII. Operation Mincemeat was the most successful wartime deception ever attempted and was the strangest. It saved thousands of lives by deploying a secret agent, who was different in one crucial respect, from any spy before or since: he was not alive. A most unlikely true spy story.

Lecture 9 - The Life of Winston Churchill
We discuss his involvement with the Boer War. His appointment to a Military Commander in WW1 and subsequent removal from active service in the trenches to a ministerial appointment. We touch briefly on a secret rarely revealed. We cover the build-up to WW2 and Churchill’s involvement in the formation of Bletchley Park, connections with Earl Mountbatten, Ian Fleming, President Eisenhower and Alan Turing. Following the end of WW2 and Churchill’s retirement from politics, we trace his later life and the development of his hobbies. With more relaxation time, he discovered his love of Madeira, Camara de Lobos, and Reid’s Palace Hotel. Churchill’s final journey down the River Thames on the Havengore to his resting place and how he attempted to plan his own funeral.

Lecture 10 - Winston Churchill - Blood, Sweat and Tears
Churchill, the man who inspired millions of people, still has the ability to divide and separate opinion. He wrote ' History will be kind to me for I intend to write it'. Here we examine Churchill in his many disguises - the husband, the father, the soldier, the polo player, the prime minister and the statesman. Here was a man in retirement who became an artist, a bricklayer and a keeper of butterflies. We reveal many myths about this great orator, his drinking habits and his cellar bills.

Lecture 11 – The Bletchley Park Technology story from Morse Code to Colossus
We will explore the use of Morse Code, the history behind the Enigma and Bombe machines, and explain the assistance the British received from the Polish mathematicians. We acknowledge the contributions of Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman and Dilly Knox and introduce other important characters who played a vital role, such as John Tiltman, Bill Tutte and Tommy Flowers. We will look at how innovative techniques using thermionic valves were utilized to replace the largely mechanical machines originally used. We describe how the work of Tommy Flowers culminated in the world’s first programmable computer.

Lecture 12 - Spies, Lies and Consequences - The Life of Ian Fleming
Ian Fleming was not only the creator of James Bond's 007, but he also worked for the Head of Naval Intelligence during WWII. He visited Bletchley Park many times and was linked to 'Operation Mincemeat' (The Man that never was). Perhaps it was here that he found the inspiration for his character. Fleming was born into a wealthy family and led a very colourful life. Here we trace his loves, career and flamboyant lifestyle as well as his literary skills. In 2008, the Times ranked Fleming fourteenth on its list of the '50 Greatest British Writers since 1945'.

Lecture 13 - The Heroines of SOE in World War II - Britain's secret women agents
In 1942, SOE was desperate for new recruits and had to turn to a previously overlooked group - women. These extraordinary women came from different backgrounds but were joined in their idealistic love of France and a desire to help in its liberation. From the famous 'White Mouse' Nancy Wake to the courageous Noor Inayat Khan, they all risked their lives for King, Country and the French Resistance. Many died bravely and painfully, and often those who survived never told their stories. Here, we reveal those brave ladies and their work of spying and sabotage.

Lecture 14 - Stowe House and the work of the Preservation Trust
Stowe House was created as a political power house. A house that had 400 rooms and had close links with 4 Prime Ministers. Since its creation over 250 years ago, we discuss the scandal, political intrigue, riches, extravagant parties and massive debts. It is the longest house in Britain and was once one of the grandest, until the bailiffs moved in and removed everything in 1847 and again in 1922. Now it is the home of Stowe School, open to the public with a new Welcome Centre. From 1996-2018, £43m is being invested in the preservation of the ‘best, biggest and most amazing building of its type in this part of the Western World. After this talk, you will want to visit this amazing house.
Fred Olsen-Balmoral July 2015 Scandinavian Cities

P&O Arcadia-January 2016 Southampton – Tenerife - Cape Verde
P&O Aurora-March 2016 Darwin – Philippines – Okinawa - Shanghai – Taiwan – Hong Kong
P&O Oriana - April 2016 Southampton – Madeira – St Maarten
Fred Olsen Braemar September 2016 Southampton – Mediterranean Cities
P&O Oriana - October 2016 Southampton - Mediterranean Cities

P&O Oceana - March 2017 Caribbean to Southampton
Viking Sea - May 2017 Homelands Scandinavia and Baltic cities
Fred Olsen Black Watch - September 2017 Edinburgh to Baltic cities
Fred Olsen Black Watch - October 2017 Edinburgh to Portugal and Canaries
Cunard Queen Elizabeth - December 2017 Canaries & Madeira

Cunard Queen Elizabeth - March 2018 New Guinea & Japan
Viking Sea - May 2018 - Homelands Scandinavia and Baltic cities
Fred Olsen Braemar - September 2018 The Heart of the Baltic
Fred Olsen Black Watch - October 2018 Mystery Cruise (France & Spain)
P&O Ventura - November 2018 Madeira Canaries Portugal

Fred Olsen Braemar - June 2019 - Norwegian Fjords
Viking Sun - July 2019 - Baltic Sea & Russia
Princess Crown - August 2019 - British Isles
I am usually able to respond at short notice, in the event of a last minute emergency.
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Marella Discovery 2 101307 Arabian Sunsets 14 Aqaba (for Petra) Thursday, November 23, 2023
Viking Venus VE230916 Viking Homelands 14 Greenwich, London Saturday, September 16, 2023
Viking Venus VE230902 British Isles Explorer 14 Bergen Saturday, September 2, 2023
Viking Venus VE230527 British Isles Explorer 14 Greenwich, London Saturday, May 27, 2023
Marella Explorer 101219 Greek Getaway 11 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria Monday, April 24, 2023
Marella Explorer 2 101171 Atlantic Explorer 14 Malaga (Granada) Sunday, November 6, 2022
Marella Discovery 101109 Atlantic Secrets 16 Bridgetown Sunday, April 24, 2022
Spirit of Discovery SD093 Highlights of the Canaries 12 Southampton Saturday, October 16, 2021
Viking Venus VE210626 England’s Scenic Shores 7 Portsmouth Saturday, June 26, 2021
Viking Venus VE210619 England’s Scenic Shores 7 Portsmouth Saturday, June 19, 2021
Crown Princess 3921 British Isles (with Kirkwall) Cruise 12 Southampton Monday, August 5, 2019
Viking Sky SK190711 Russia & the Baltic Sea 10 Stockholm Thursday, July 11, 2019
Viking Sky SK190701 Russia & the Baltic Sea 10 Copenhagen Monday, July 1, 2019
Viking Sea SE180501 Viking Homelands 14 Stockholm Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Viking Sea SE170514 Viking Homelands 14 Stockholm Sunday, May 14, 2017
Oceana E702 Caribbean Cruise 35 Southampton Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Oriana X619 Mediterranean Cruise 19 Southampton Monday, October 3, 2016
Braemar M1624 The Croatian & Italian Coast with Venice 28 Southampton Saturday, September 10, 2016
Oriana X605 Grand America & Caribbean Cruise 35 Southampton Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Arcadia J601 World Cruise 115 Southampton Monday, January 11, 2016
Aurora R601 Aurora's World Circumnavigation 114 Southampton Saturday, January 2, 2016
Balmoral L1506 Scandinavian Experience 11 Southampton Tuesday, June 9, 2015