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  • Death and destruction at Bletchley Park

    It is a cold day in January 1941 and the Luftwaffe is ordered to attack Britian on a special mission.

    The Luftwaffe launches a large scale attack and as the British radars pick up the swarm of German bombers approaching in numbers not seen since October. It is clear the route the bombers are heading is for London.

    However as the bombers are intercepted the RAF pilots report that it seems that every german bomber is in on the attack, although the bombers do suffer casualties they fly over London, the plotters keep track of the bombers and they fly towards Luton, and from that point the RAF controllers believe Birmingham and fighters from there are scrambled to intercept the German bombers.

    It is 09.30 hrs and as the bombers pass over Bletchley Park they release their bombloads, thousands of bombs rain down onto Bletchley Park and within a minute Bletchley Park is flattened and Britians top code breakers are dead and Ultra is destroyed, as well as all the vital paper work that is crucial to Britian's war effort.

    Germany within weeks changes over to a new 5 spindle Engima machine.

    So what would the effect of losing Bletchley Park, Ultra and all of Britian's top codebreakers and intelligence that goes with it.

  • #2
    On what basis do the German's attack Bletchley? They were confident in Enigma & its infallibility, certain that it remained uncrackable (is that even a word?!) For the Luftwaffe to carry out this raid they would need to doubt the efficacy of their code machines.

    Now, a bomber group jettisoning its bombs as it was harried by fighters which by unhappy chance fall upon Bletchley Park, causing severe damage and killing dozens of cypher experts including the likes of Turing - now that is the sort of dumb luck chance event that could possibly have happened, the results of which would have been potentially devastating.
    Last edited by Dogsbody67; 05 Dec 13, 06:03.
    HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

    "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." - Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
      It is a cold day in January 1941 and the Luftwaffe is ordered to attack Britian on a special mission.

      The Luftwaffe launches a large scale attack and as the British radars pick up the swarm of German bombers approaching in numbers not seen since October. It is clear the route the bombers are heading is for London.

      However as the bombers are intercepted the RAF pilots report that it seems that every german bomber is in on the attack, although the bombers do suffer casualties they fly over London, the plotters keep track of the bombers and they fly towards Luton, and from that point the RAF controllers believe Birmingham and fighters from there are scrambled to intercept the German bombers.

      It is 09.30 hrs and as the bombers pass over Bletchley Park they release their bombloads, thousands of bombs rain down onto Bletchley Park and within a minute Bletchley Park is flattened and Britians top code breakers are dead and Ultra is destroyed, as well as all the vital paper work that is crucial to Britian's war effort.

      Germany within weeks changes over to a new 5 spindle Engima machine.

      So what would the effect of losing Bletchley Park, Ultra and all of Britian's top codebreakers and intelligence that goes with it.
      After Dogsbody's response of a blind luck scenario that Luftwaffe bombers are on their way to Birmingham and due to a mix up they are unescorted and after being harried by the RAF and they end up dumping their bombs and they at the time were over Bletchley Park and hundreds of bombs rained down onto Bletchley Park and it caused mass devestaion and death.

      Bletchley Park is a total loss and with that the best code breakers, Ultra and the vital intel on German codes that were being broken at the time.

      A huge big thanks to DB for his imput as it makes more sense.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
        After Dogsbody's response of a blind luck scenario that Luftwaffe bombers are on their way to Birmingham and due to a mix up they are unescorted and after being harried by the RAF and they end up dumping their bombs and they at the time were over Bletchley Park and hundreds of bombs rained down onto Bletchley Park and it caused mass devestaion and death.

        Bletchley Park is a total loss and with that the best code breakers, Ultra and the vital intel on German codes that were being broken at the time.

        A huge big thanks to DB for his imput as it makes more sense.
        The result in layman's terms would be 'pretty bloody devastating!'

        It would have been more difficult to steer convoys away from wolfpacks (as it was for much of 1942 when the KM changed rotors on their Enigma machines), events in the Western Desert may have changed dramatically as ULTRA gave much useful intelligence as to Rommel's intentions, it confirmed that the Germans were working on rocket technology at Peenemunde and last (but no means least or final of things that ULTRA helped to predict / confirm), Kriegsmarine signals confirming Scharnhorst's final sortie were decoded which led to her sinking.

        Ok, so ULTRA was not infallible, Bletchley couldn't provide all the answers, especially as the German's fell back towards their own borders and so relied on it less and less to pass on orders, but the loss of Bletchley Park and its skilled decoders and technicians would have had serious ramifications for the allied war effort.
        HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

        "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." - Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hinsley's view,

          This is taken from a lecture given by Sir Harry Hinsley on Tuesday 19th October 1993, Babbage Lecture Theatre, University of Cambridge.

          Title: The Influence of ULTRA in the Second World War

          Ross Anderson: It is a great pleasure to introduce today's speaker, Sir Harry Hinsley, who actually worked at Bletchley from 1939 to 1946 and then came back to Cambridge and became Professor of the History of International Relations and Master of St John's College. He is also the official historian of British Intelligence in World War II, and he is going to talk to us today about Ultra.

          ...

          Q. Would we have won the war without Ultra?

          My own view is that given that the Soviets survived the German attack and the Americans came in as they did, the combined forces of Russia, America and the British would eventually have won the war. The long term relative strengths of Germany and those three counties were such that Germany was bound to loose in the end. But how lengthily and with what damage and destruction we should have succeeded I don't know. I think we would have won but it would have been a long and much more brutal and destructive war.
          - Sir Harry Hinsley
          "I am Groot"
          - Groot

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          • #6
            This assumes Bletchley Park was the sole repository of Brit inteligence concerning the Enigma encryption system. I dont have the books at hand, so only a guess could be made at how long it would require to rebuild the Bletchley Park capabilty.

            Not everyone who understood the system was concentrated at BP at all times.

            Not everyone who understood the encryption machines was posted to BP. The Brit experts on the TYPEX machines worked elsewhere & represented a secondary pool of people who understood rotary type encryption machines. In the US there were the engineers & techs of the SIGABA machines.

            Until well into 1942 the Brits kept the Enigma knowledge a close secret & shared poorly with the US. The desire to rebuild the capability lost in the BP attack would likely lead to a earlier and better organized use of US resources.

            Looking beyond Enigma. There were many other methods of teasing out German intent and capabilities. Lower level tactical codes were a lot easier to break, tho a larger analysis system was necessary to make good use of those. Signal/traffic analysis was well developed. The Brits had a spy network. Later the US developed it OSS into a stratigic reconisance arm. Many critical intel findings from radio messages did not come from Enigma decrypts. Oshimas Chatty Cathy messages to Japan were in the Japanese diplomatic encryption system and were read by the US, not BP. Ditto for messages to and from other sources.

            Then there is the Enigma myopia that created periodic problems. Eisenhower got burned at least twice by inteliigence officers who were focused on Engima based ULTRA reports. US First Army HQ in December 1944 is another notable example of this. It is probable that absent Enigma based information other sources/methods would be better developed.

            Trashing BP in early 1941 is a setback, but leaves plenty of time to rebuild that capability, and encourages a better balanced development of methods and sources.

            Comment


            • #7
              Definately,...

              Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
              This assumes Bletchley Park was the sole repository of Brit inteligence concerning the Enigma encryption system. I dont have the books at hand, so only a guess could be made at how long it would require to rebuild the Bletchley Park capabilty.

              Not everyone who understood the system was concentrated at BP at all times.

              Not everyone who understood the encryption machines was posted to BP. The Brit experts on the TYPEX machines worked elsewhere & represented a secondary pool of people who understood rotary type encryption machines. In the US there were the engineers & techs of the SIGABA machines.

              Until well into 1942 the Brits kept the Enigma knowledge a close secret & shared poorly with the US. The desire to rebuild the capability lost in the BP attack would likely lead to a earlier and better organized use of US resources.

              Looking beyond Enigma. There were many other methods of teasing out German intent and capabilities. Lower level tactical codes were a lot easier to break, tho a larger analysis system was necessary to make good use of those. Signal/traffic analysis was well developed. The Brits had a spy network. Later the US developed it OSS into a stratigic reconisance arm. Many critical intel findings from radio messages did not come from Enigma decrypts. Oshimas Chatty Cathy messages to Japan were in the Japanese diplomatic encryption system and were read by the US, not BP. Ditto for messages to and from other sources.

              Then there is the Enigma myopia that created periodic problems. Eisenhower got burned at least twice by inteliigence officers who were focused on Engima based ULTRA reports. US First Army HQ in December 1944 is another notable example of this. It is probable that absent Enigma based information other sources/methods would be better developed.

              Trashing BP in early 1941 is a setback, but leaves plenty of time to rebuild that capability, and encourages a better balanced development of methods and sources.

              ... good Intell. work is only as good as the Analyst, picking through the variety of often overlapping sources available to make a reasoned assessment of enemy action, intent etc. During the BoA, when the availability of enigma based Intell. deceased because of an additional rotor, Huff-Duff i.e. High Frequency Direction Finding was still available. While the exact content of messages may not be available, the locations of transmitting U-Boats, raiders etc. were, and the latter was of greater importance to convoy escorts, pursuing cruisers etc. on the spot anyway.

              Hinsely's was just an overall assessment of ULTRA, but his official histories cover all angles of British Intell., and makes frequent reference to US counterparts and cooperation.
              "I am Groot"
              - Groot

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              • #8
                The biggest difference is that The History Channel would have a lot few programs about Bletchley Park.

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                • #9
                  Well... why don't we make a list of the things that Ultra revealed in 1941, maybe early 1942, and have a look at how it was acted on... and then judge from that what the effect would have been?

                  Knowing is one thing, using that knowledge is another thing entirely.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As far as U-boats went, it was Dönitz' insistance that they regularly check in and act on a central communication system that did them in. HF/DF had a far greater role earlier in the war on finding U-boats than Ultra did.
                    HF/DF was real-time information that could be used immediately. Ultra was still slow in decoding messages and they hadn't yet discovered the KM's use of 5 wheel (versus 4 wheel) machines.
                    So, in that respect I don't think it would have made one wit's bit of difference there.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
                      Well... why don't we make a list of the things that Ultra revealed in 1941, maybe early 1942, and have a look at how it was acted on... and then judge from that what the effect would have been?

                      Knowing is one thing, using that knowledge is another thing entirely.
                      A thorough answer would require sifting through several thousand messages, identifying which ones were decrypted in time to be of use, and cross checking with operational decisions to see which were used. That will have a subjective element since direct written reference to ULTRA intel material was prohibited, so operation planning docs and orders would connect to the decrypts only indirectly.

                      There are some declassified reports we might dig out that included descriptions how ULTRA was used in the planning of this or that operation. Some of the same sort of thing appears in some of the books concerning ULTRA and Enigma that are on my shelves. The main thing I recall is there were very few single earth shaking revelations from any single message. Just bits that built a larger picture. Also most of the directly useful Enigma decrypts came from Luftwaffe messages in the Mediterranean. Status or strength reports, logistics matters, & messages concerning operational plans were useful.

                      The deception organization was learning at the time how to use Enigma decrypts to find information on how sucessful their operations were, and to help improve their operations.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
                        Well... why don't we make a list of the things that Ultra revealed in 1941, maybe early 1942, and have a look at how it was acted on... and then judge from that what the effect would have been?

                        Knowing is one thing, using that knowledge is another thing entirely.
                        A fair comment.

                        There's no doubt that Ultra was a priceless national asset that had to be protected and its use carefully controlled.

                        It has been suggested that the intense bombing of the City of Coventry, in November,1940 was foretold through Ultra intercepts but the decision was made at the highest level not to take particular measures to try to mitigate the threat through further evacuations, extra A-A guns etc.

                        This tale is certainly apocryphal but it's not entirely beyond belief.

                        As for the destruction of Bletchley Park itself there were certainly measures in place deploying and dispersing the facilities: Droitwich in Worcestershire (Midlands) was one site, I've heard ,and Cheltenham (where related assets still operate, I believe) is another.

                        Perhaps one obstacle to creating such a list is that what was secret then, may be secret still.
                        "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                        Samuel Johnson.

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                        • #13
                          One ironic result: If Ultra is slowed and Germany thereby gets somewhat of a reprieve then look for Germany (esp. Berlin) to be nuked. Drop one or two nukes and look for the generals to capitulate rather quickly. Bye, bye fuhrer. And if the war drags on into 1946 would Hitler have been totally disfunctional or dead with Alsheimer's or whatever really increasingly debilitated him?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
                            A fair comment.

                            There's no doubt that Ultra was a priceless national asset that had to be protected and its use carefully controlled.

                            It has been suggested that the intense bombing of the City of Coventry, in November,1940 was foretold through Ultra intercepts but the decision was made at the highest level not to take particular measures to try to mitigate the threat through further evacuations, extra A-A guns etc.

                            This tale is certainly apocryphal but it's not entirely beyond belief.
                            http://www.winstonchurchill.org/lear...-coventry-burn

                            Paul
                            ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
                            All human ills he can subdue,
                            Or with a bauble or medal
                            Can win mans heart for you;
                            And many a blessing know to stew
                            To make a megloamaniac bright;
                            Give honour to the dainty Corse,
                            The Pixie is a little shite.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dibble201Bty View Post
                              Excellent ,Paul:- Well, I did say the story was apocryphal !

                              ( I'd award a point if I were permitted).
                              "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                              Samuel Johnson.

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