25 SEPTEMBER 1993, Page 26

Pater et Patria

Sir: In Hugh Trevor-Roper's review of Codebreakers (Books, 18 September) IDill- wyn] Knox, who worked on [Enigma] first was (I now learn) defeatist about it'. Real- ly? Learn from whom? Nowhere in this book under review is his defeatism stated or implied. I can remember my father, in the ice and fog of an early wartime winter, driving from Bletchley with Alan Turing for brief weekends in our Chiltern home. He did not of course tell his schoolboy sons of the enterprise on which they were engaged. But, whether in moments of relaxation struggling with impossibly obscure and fragmentary Greek comedians, or in his even more arduous struggles with German and Italian codes (and with the onset of the cancer which was soon to kill him) he was a stranger to defeatism. 'Nothing is impossi- ble', he used to instruct us. How great his contribution was, and was recognised to be, is told in my cousin Penelope Fitzgerald's admirable work The Knox Brothers. Her authority and my memory are more authen- tic, I suggest, than that of your reviewer's.

Oliver Knox

38b Linden Gardens, London W2