Home   Ashford   News   Article

Wartime codebreaker Adrienne Gurr died after crash near Tenterden

A Bletchley Park codebreaker was killed after the driver of the car she was travelling in lost control and crashed into a telegraph pole, a court was told.

Adrienne Gurr was out celebrating her 93rd birthday with her close friends Anthony and Margaret Waddington last June.

The trio had gone to the Riverside restaurant in Lamberhurst and were returning to Ms Gurr’s home in Tenterden when Anthony Waddington lost control of his Peugeot and plunged into a ditch in Cranbrook Road.

Emergency services at the scene of the crash
Emergency services at the scene of the crash

Police, fire crews and ambulance staff were called to the scene after car flipped over and caused a telegraph pole to snap.

Paramedics tried to revive Ms Gurr, but she died the next day at King’s College Hospital in London.

Police then charged 78-year-old landlord Anthony Waddington with causing death by careless driving.

He has appeared before Folkestone magistrates where he admitted the charge and described his sadness at being responsible for the crash.

Prosecutor Paul Edwards said Ms Gurr had been sitting in the front passenger seat, with Mrs Waddington in the back along the national speed limit road.

He told the court: “The car was seen by witnesses steering side to side prior to leaving the road into the grass verge.

"The car behind tried to alert the driver by sounding their horn to prevent an accident.

The court hearing took place at Folkestone Magistrates' Court
The court hearing took place at Folkestone Magistrates' Court

“When officers went to the William Harvey Hospital to check on Mr Waddington’s welfare, he was unable to offer any initial explanation other than he may have passed out or may have nodded off.”

Waddington, of Fosten Lane in Biddenden, has been a diabetic for the past 25 years and had drunk a glass of wine at the meal and had a top up.

But he was unsure if this had made him drowsy behind the wheel on the return journey later in the afternoon.

Defence solicitor David Barton described the case as “desperately tragic” and explained how the trio had been friends for the past 35 years after meeting through playing bridge.

Ms Gurr had no immediate family, and often went on cruises with the Waddingtons for her holidays.

Magistrates banned Waddington from getting behind the wheel for five years, and imposed a suspended prison sentence of 120 days, which will last for two years.

They also ordered him to pay £85 for court costs and £115 for a victim surcharge, which he agreed to pay within 28 days.

Bletchley Park
Bletchley Park

Waddington was driving between 30 and 40mph and witnesses saw his Peugeot veering from side to side in the moments before the crash.

Later neurology tests ruled out he had suffered a stroke at the wheel, but he said he can normally tell if he is feeling drowsy after having wine.

After the incident he said if he had dozed off, it would have been suddenly, in a way that has never happened before. As a result he handed in his licence to the DVLA.

There was also a debate in court as to whether he had been warned in 2012 that he should stop driving.

His wife had asked him to attend a sleep apnoea clinic because of his snoring, and a letter sent by the clinic to his GP appeared to recommend he shouldn’t drive.

But defence solicitor David Barton said Waddington received no instruction to stop driving.

If he had received such instruction he would have faced the more severe charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Adrienne Gurr is named on the Roll of Honour at Bletchley Park
Adrienne Gurr is named on the Roll of Honour at Bletchley Park

Mr Barton pointed out there was no evidence to suggest his client had taken the wrong medication, or that his treatment for sleep apnoea in 2012 had any bearing on the crash.

He stated: “Any suggestion there is a history that might have contributed to this is completely incorrect.

"There is no suggestion that Mr Waddington was ever told that he should not drive.

“He is scrupulously honest and would not have put himself into a dangerous situation as a driver.”

Ms Gurr’s nephew Michael Gurr was also in court, and said he had played more of a role in helping his aunt in the final years of her life.

He explained she had worked as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, which was famous for cracking the Nazi’s Enigma codes.

She had a keen interest in crosswords and playing bridge, and had moved to Kent to work as a farm secretary after the war, where she also enjoyed genealogy and cooking.

Adrienne Gurr served at Bletchley Park from 1943 to 1946 and is listed on the Roll of Honour
Adrienne Gurr served at Bletchley Park from 1943 to 1946 and is listed on the Roll of Honour

In a statement read out in court Mr Gurr stated: “To receive news of the accident while out of the country was a particular shock.

"I know she really valued the friendship of Mr and Mrs Waddington.

“For her to sustain injuries while enjoying their company is tragic, It’s particularly sad that a fine and honest person should end her life in such a manner.”

Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire was at the centre of Britain’s intelligence-gathering during the Second World War.

It brought together the country’s sharpest minds to solve the codes of the Nazi war machine and its Axis allies Italy and Japan.

Experts believe the efforts of staff helped to shorten the war by at least two years, while some experts say that without their efforts, the outcome of the war would have been uncertain.

Adrienne Gurr firstly served at Beaumanor in Leicestershire where she arrived in January 1943, but was switched to Bletchley in March the same year.

She served in D and G blocks until 1946 for SIXTA, analysing traffic signals to build a picture of the enemy’s strength in each area.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More