Bletchley Park is fifty miles from London which is not very far. This was a perfect location for a set up like Bletchley Park because it was far away enough from London to stop it from being bombed during the war. Because it was close to Oxford and Cambridge universities they could easily recruit their staff from the universities. Bletchley Park was originally an evacuation base for MI6. MI6 deals with foreign intelligence. Bletchley then became a government code and cipher school. Bletchley Park was set up to break German the Enigma codes. Bletchley Park was given the code name ‘Station X’.
Y service stations where set up all around the British Empire to intercept German messages. These messages were recorded by the Y service stations and passed on to Station X. They passed the messages on because they were in code and needed to be decoded. At first mainly middle-aged academics from Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Young administrative staff mainly young girls aged between 18-22 were also recruited at first. But then the Germans started to use enigma to send messages, the British thought the Enigma codes were unbreakable and they were not far wrong as it had 159, million, million, million possibilities.
Bletchley Park needed a new breed of code breakers because the Enigma codes were so complex. The Enigma was a mathematical machine so Station X brought in mainly mathematicians from universities. They were used because breaking the Enigma codes depended on being able to predict the likelihood of random letters appearing in a sequence. They then put a cryptic crossword in a newspaper, the Daily Telegraph and anyone who could complete it within 12 minutes was hired. Huts 6 and 3 done most of the work at Bletchley Park. Hut 6 received signals and sorted them in order of importance.
They then decoded and sent through a tunnel to Hut 3. Hut 3 turned the decoded message into text which made sense. The complete message was sent to MI6. Station X used the pile system to sort their work. There were 4 piles. Pile 1 was the urgent messages which were immediately sent MI6 by teleprompter. Pile to was sent to MI6 by teleprompter later on. Pile 3 was delivered to MI6 by Van. Pile 4 was the useless messages and was left. As the war expanded Bletchley had to expand. By 1942 Bletchley received 8,000 messages a day.
Winston Churchill the Prime Minister of England was very interested in the work done at Station X.because of the increase in the number of messages Bletchley Park needed more buildings and recruits. Bletchley turned to Churchill for help. Churchill gladly gave funds for more buildings and recruits. Code breakers sent letters directly to him. Secrecy of Bletchley Park was maintained by it being broken down into self contained huts. None of the code breakers knew what was happening in other huts apart from their own. The location also helped with secrecy. Question 2 The Germans believed the Enigma codes were unbreakable. This is understandable as it had 159, million, million, million possibilities.
This why the Enigma was used to send messages by the German Army, Navy and Air force. The Enigma was invented in 1919. The three rota’s or wheels contained all the letters of the alphabet. The wheels were linked by electrical circuits connected to a type writer. The rotors were changed everyday so the codes could be anything. The mathematicians working at Bletchley Park had to try and reduce the possibilities. They got their first clues when operators of the Enigma sent a repeated message so the receiver could set their Enigma. This gave the code breakers at Station X a clue to what the settings were on that day.
Poland helped the code breakers because they had come up with a replica of the Enigma which was given to the British. A polish spy in the German army was used to find out about the Enigma. Once the code breakers knew how the Enigma worked they would get closer to breaking it. The Germans were so confident that the Enigma was unbreakable they carelessly provided clues for the code breakers. The people at Bletchley Park knew that a letter never represents it self. This became important when pieces of information were put together. Pieces from Enigma codes and other simpler codes were put together to work out settings.
Another clue the Germans provided was that many messages started off with ‘to all units’. This repetition provides clues to settings. Some messages were not longer then 26 letters meaning the middle wheel never moves this drops the number of possibilities dramatically. In January 1940 the first breakthrough was made. Alan Turing played a huge part. Even before he was recruited by Station X he had come up with an idea for a machine which could carry out calculations. His idea became reality later on at Bletchley; it was used to break Enigma codes.
He questioned the Poles in France and returned with correct information about the Enigma. Now Station X began to decode messages. They were not the most important messages as they were more complex but it was a start. Security was tightened to make sure the Germans did not find out the Enigma was being broken. John Hervial came up with the 2nd breakthrough with the cryptic crossword method. This method was used because solving a cryptic crossword relied on thinking way the writer of the crossword thought and the same principle is used when breaking Enigma codes. They would start by sending a three letter message to other operators.
The Germans believed the Enigma was unbreakable so what if the operator didn’t change the rotors so all station X needed was the first messages from as many operators as possible. This method didn’t work well at first but then Germany invaded Denmark and the number of messages sent increased and the method started working. Turing invented the ‘bombes’, they were electrical machines that go through and speed up finding all the possibilities of an Enigma machine. It was as powerful as 10 Enigmas. By 1940 the German came up with an 8 wheeled Enigma known as ‘Dolphin’. At station X Hut 8 worked constantly on Dolphin codes.
In 1941 the Dolphin was broken when 2 U-boats were captured and parts of the Enigma and instruction books were found. Then the RAF dropped mines in the North Sea which the German navy found out about and sent messages to their U-boats and these were intercepted and the similarities were used to crack codes. The Dolphin was unsuccessful so a new Enigma with 4 rotors was invented it was known as ‘Shark’. British aircraft captured U-boat U-570 and found parts of the four wheeled Enigma. But all 4 wheels were not always used so the messages could be cracked. This helped them to win the battle of Atlantic.
Fish was far more complex then enigma and was used to send messages to Hitler. It didn’t use Morse code. It used dots and crosses in place of letters. The machine contained ten wheels. Early cracking of fish was done by hand then a machine called ‘Robinson’ was invented it speeded up the process of cracking. It used paper tape this tore easily and they need an alternative. Colossus was the alternative it was the first programmable computer and was first installed in December 1943. It looked for patterns in the data. Question 3 Only a selected amount people knew what actually went on at Bletchley Park.
The British Generals, Admirals and Air marshals did not know what went on at Bletchley Park and how they gathered all their information. Because of this fact the Military chiefs did not trust information from Station X and chose to ignore it. Later the Military Chiefs found out that the information from Bletchley Park was found by civilians, they didn’t like taking information from anyone outside of the armed forces. In April 1940 Station X gave the navy information about naval activity in the Baltic. The Admiralty’s Operational Intelligence Centre (OIC) ignored this information.
A few days later Norway was invaded and the British could do little. In May 1940 Station X again sent a warning to the OIC saying they believe German warships were going to sail out into the Atlantic. They asked OIC to send a warning message to the home fleet at Scapa Flow, Orkneys. Bletchley’s warnings were again ignored and on 8 June 1940 HMS Glorious and her 2 escort ships were returning from Norway and were attacked by German pocket ships. All three British ships were sunk. 1500 men were killed. Bletchley didn’t play an important role in either the battle for France or the Battle of Britain.
But because there was a lot messages Bletchley had plenty of messages to practice their code breaking and organistional skills. In 1941 Station X provided information on a fleet of Germans in the Mediterranean waiting to back up Italians invading Yugoslavia. The Royal Navy was tipped of and sank three heavy cruisers and two destroyers. This led to victory at Matapan. On the 20th May 1941 the Bismarck (pride of German Navy) left to attack British shipping in the North Atlantic. HMS Hood went to intercept it and got sunk although the Bismarck was damaged. It could not get back to Germany and started to head for Brest in France.
Station X found messages being sent to France and told the Navy who then sent ‘Force H’ from Gibraltar to sink the Bismark. Bletchley’s biggest success was helping win the Battle of the Atlantic. Station X helped defeat attacks by German U-boats on British convoys. The convoys carried British food and war materials from the USA and Canada but U-boats were sinking 282,000 tonnes of supplies a month. But in July 1940 the Dolphin had been cracked by Station X and the number of convoys being sunk dropped to 62,000, by now the German U-boats left the Atlantic and went to the Mediterranean.
Conclusion Bletchley Park did play a very big part in the war. I think Britain would have survived without Station X because of help from the USA. But because the German U-boats would have continued sinking British convoys and Britain would have had little supplies, it would have been difficult for Britain with out Bletchley but Station X cracked the Dolphin and stopped convoys being sunk. Bletchley Park did shorten the war by a few years because it provide vital information about its enemies. USA joining in the war played a huge part because the German army was bigger then the British army.