Enigma Communications’ managing editor Phil Shanahan has been manning an exhibition and signing copies of his book about Tamworth WWII hero Colin Grazier who helped shorten the conflict.
The display at Ankerside Shopping Centre features historic pictures and newspaper cuttings from an award-winning campaign Phil led to bring Grazier to public attention. The Able Seaman died aged 22 capturing vital codebooks from a sinking German U-boat in 1942.
Historians credit the action with shortening the war by up to two years because it enabled Britain’s codebreakers to crack the four-rotor Enigma code and defeat the U-boat fleet in the Battle of the Atlantic.
First Lieutenant Tony Fasson, who died alongside Grazier, and a teenage NAAFI canteen assistant, Tommy Brown, also involved in the incident, are commemorated with a sculpture in St Editha’s Square, Tamworth.
Visitors to the exhibition have included two of Grazier’s closest living relatives. His first cousins Carol Bridges and Arthur Lakin popped in on different days to see the exhibits.
Mr Lakin, 85, from Glascote, showed Phil the medal he was given for his service in the Korean War. He joined the Royal Navy at the age of 15 and went on to become a member of the elite Special Boat Service. He said: “Colin was a lively, likeable type of person. It was Colin who inspired me to join the Navy.”
Mrs Bridges, 70, from Kingsbury, said: “I’m very proud of Colin and what he achieved. It’s lovely to see him being remembered in this way.”
Phil will be at the exhibition from 11am to 3pm on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Tuesday, April 3 to chat to shoppers and sign copies of his book, The Real Enigma Heroes.
He said: “It was a privilege to meet Colin’s close relatives and they are justifiably proud of their family links.”
Grazier and Fasson were posthumously awarded the George Cross, while Brown received the George Medal. However, the success of the mission they took part in was kept secret, even from their families, for many decades to prevent the Germans discovering their naval code, which they used to communicate with the U-boats, had been broken. The campaign Phil led set out to redress that and to honour the men’s achievements.