By James Favata
It was British citizen Wren “Alison” Robins’ job to stay silent… to listen.
And while she may not have said much, this silent hero helped Allied forces defeat Nazi Germany and win World War II.
Late last month, Robins, the last of the famed World War II “listeners” who intercepted German messages for the British, died at 97.
In her early years, Robins was a riding instructor and a stewardess – but when war came to Europe, she was ready to pitch in and do more.
“I think she was bored out of her mind serving soup at the Royal Navy College” her daughter Jill Hazel said.
Robins taught herself Morse code and German, and stayed up day and night listening to communications among Nazi U-boats lurking off the British coast.
She was responsible for passing intercepted messages onto the now famous Bletchley Park, where the Nazi Enigma code was broken.
“Anyone who thinks black coffee keeps you awake is wrong,” she once said. “The only thing that keeps you awake is the thought that if you fall asleep people will die.”
Most of Robins’ war years were spent in isolation, in remote locations, trying to intercept messages and break codes that would help the Allies win the war.
She was a war-time rarity. Many “listeners” knew code or German – but few knew both.
Robins was a mother of three who had seven grandchildren and eight grandchildren.
James Favata is an Air Force veteran and freelance writer based in Virginia. He covers military issues for America Uncensored.