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Deputy editor's private audience with Prince Charles

A deputy editor turned royal host for the day as he showed Prince Charles and Camilla around an important historical exhibition.

Phil Shanahan, of the Tamworth Herald, was invited to personally guide the royal couple around Hut 8, at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, where the German Enigma codes were broken during World War II.

The secrecy involved in the event was such that Phil didn’t even know who the VIPs were until the morning of the visit.

Phil led a Tamworth Herald campaign to bring proper recognition to local man Colin Grazier and two other sailors who retrieved Enigma code books from a sinking German U-boat, in 1942.

Their heroic feats, which cost Colin and First Lieutenant Tony Fasson their lives, are believed to have shortened World War II by a year but remained publically unacknowledged for decades.

Along with the Herald’s campaign to bring them recognition, they have been chronicled by Phil in his book The Real Enigma Heroes.

Phil outlined the extraordinary tale to the royal couple and presented Prince Charles with a copy of his book and Camilla with one of the Herald’s specially-created Colin Grazier plates.

Phil said: “It was obviously a huge honour for me to meet the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall who appeared to be genuinely interested in the story.

“I have experienced so many highs with this but I think this one must top the lot. It was a day I will never forget.

“It’s also further proof that the three men we have been championing carried out one of the most important acts of bravery of the Second World War.”

Tamworth Herald editor Gary Phelps added: “Needless to say, this invitation was a great honour for the Herald and Phil whose determination and hard work drove the campaign to such heights.

“Without his single-minded approach to this remarkable story, the deeds of Colin Crazier and his two colleagues would still be largely uncelebrated today.

“I would like to put on record how proud I am of Phil and the Herald’s campaign after such a remarkable honour.”

  • Phil unveils a plaque at Bletchley Park to mark the opening of Hut 8