“The secret weapon that won the war”, was how Churchill described the cracking of the Enigma code. But the brilliant work of Alan Turning and his team at Bletchley Park was only part of the story. Spies and ordinary seamen risked their lives to rescue codebooks and manuals from sinking ships... read more
No episode in the history of the Second World War has captured the imagination more vividly than the cracking of the Enigma code by a group of eccentric boffins at Bletchley Park. The brilliant work of Alan Turing and his team, as they worked round the clock to decipher the messages sent by... read more
No episode in the history of the Second World War has captured the imagination more vividly than the cracking of the Enigma code by a group of eccentric boffins at Bletchley Park. The brilliant work of Alan Turing and his team, as they worked round the clock to decipher the messages sent by the most sophisticated coding machine of the age, played a huge part in winning the war for the Allies. But it was a part of a much bigger and equally dramatic story - that of the spies and ordinary seamen who risked their lives to capture the codebooks and manuals that would provide the key to Germany's top-secret Enigma machine.
It began in 1931, when Hans Thilo Schmidt - the 'Enigma Spy' - turned traitor and handed over two codebooks to the French Secret Service. In the cloak-and-dagger world of pre-war Europe, Enigma was already known to be the most powerful weapon in German intelligence, yet the code remained unbroken. Once war was declared, the struggle began in earnest. Codebooks were scooped from sinking German U-boats or captured in hit-and-run raids: when U-33 was scuppered in the Firth of Clyde, a rescued crew-member was found to have Enigma wheels in his pocket. These 'pinches', as they became known, were vital. During the last six months of 1940, German U-boats sank three million tons of Allied shipping in the Atlantic, an assault so devastating it threatened Britain's very survival. For the cryptographers at Bletchley, a constant supply of new codebooks was essential if they were to have a hope of turning the tide.
Inspired by Robert Harris's novel, Hugh Sebag-Montefiore tells the whole extraordinary story - the charisma and courage, the deeds of heroism and sacrifice, and the unremitting determination of those involved in 'cracking the code'.
1. THE BETRAYAL: Belgium and Germany, 1931
2. THE LEAK: Poland, Belgium and Germany, 1929-38
3. AN INSPIRED GUESS: Poland, 1932
4. A TERRIBLE MISTAKE: Poland, 1933-9
5. FLIGHT: Germany, Poland, France and England, 1939-40
6. THE FIRST CAPTURE: Scotland, 1940
7. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: Norway and Bletchley Park, 1940
8. KEEPING THE ENIGMA SECRET: France and Bletchley Park, May-September 1940
9. DEADLOCK: Bletchley Park, August-October 1940
10. THE ITALIAN AFFAIR: Bletchley Park and the Mediterranean, March 1941
11. THE END OF THE BEGINNING: Norway, March 1941
12. BREAKTHROUGH: North of Iceland, May 1941
13. OPERATION PRIMROSE: The Atlantic, May 1941
14. THE KNOCK-OUT BLOW: North of Iceland, June 1941
15. SUSPICION: Bletchley Park, the Atlantic and Berlin, May—October 1941
16. A TWO-EDGED SWORD: The Atlantic and the cape Verde Islands, September 1941
17. LIVING DANGEROUSLY: The South Atlantic and Norway, November 1941
18. THE HUNT FOR THE BIGRAM TABLES: Bletchley Park and Norway, December 1941
19. BLACK-OUT: The Barents Sea, Bletchley Park and the Admiralty, February—July 1942
20. BREAKING THE DEADLOCK: The Mediterranean and Bletchley Park, October—December 1942
21. THE TURNING POINT: South of France, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, November 1942—September 1943
22. TRAPPED: South of France, November 1942—March 1943
23. THE ARREST: Berlin, March—September 1943
24. SINKING THE SCHARNHORST: The Barents Sea, December 1943
25. OPERATION COVERED: Paris, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic, August 1943—March 1944
26. THE LAST HICCOUGH: Germany, France, and the South Atlantic, March—June 1944
Epilogue: Where Did They Go?
1. Polish Code-breaking Techniques
2. The Bombe
3. Naval Enigma
6. Naval Enigma Offizier—How It Was Broken
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