Alan Turing's stolen possessions will be returned to the UK

Alan Turing memorial statue, located in Sackville Park, Manchester, wearing a face mask
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A number of possessions belonging to the late Alan Turing are being returned to the UK decades after they were stolen.

The 17 items, which include a miniature OBE medal awarded to the codebreaker by King George VI, had been taken without permission from the independent Sherborne School in Dorset.

They had been given to the school in 1965 by Alan Turing’s family, honouring the time he spent there as a pupil between 1926 and 1931.

In 1984, the possessions were stolen by Julie Schwinghamer, who later changed her name to Julie Turing despite having no relation to the family.

It took over three decades to recover the missing items, which were finally found in 2018 when Julie Turing attempted to loan the possessions to the University of Colorado, claiming to be a relative of the Bletchley Park codebreaker.

An investigation carried out by US Homeland Security managed to recover the items from her home in Conifer, Colorado. Along with the miniature OBE medal, the police managed to obtain Turing's Princeton University PhD certificate, as well as photographs and school reports from his time at Sherborne, according to US court documents.

Julie Turing was faced with a US civil court case which has since been settled out of court. Homeland Security Investigations has informed Sherborne that the 17 items would be returned “in due course”.

School archivist Rachel Hassall told the BBC that “by removing the material from the school archives Ms Turing has denied generations of pupils and researchers the opportunity to consult it”.

“Alan Turing is one of Sherborne School's most distinguished alumni and there is no denying that he was a very individual boy, as he proved when, due to no trains running during the General Strike in May 1926, he cycled, aged 13, 65 miles from Southampton to Sherborne for his first day of term. In his last year at the school he was made a school prefect and won all the school prizes for science and mathematics,” she said.

Hassall also told the publication that, once the items are returned to the school, they will be available to be viewed in person or via the school archives website.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

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