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Death and destruction at Bletchley Park

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  • #16
    I agree to the assessment of Sir Harry Hinsley.
    The Allies would still have won the War, but it would probably have lasted some months longer and spilled more blood. There would be a slight chance that the A-Bombs would have been dropped on Germany. But there would also be some (other) unexpected downsides for the Germans:

    the first attack of Rommel and his DAK towards Mersa el Brega would probably have been not unexpected by the Brits and therefore not been as successful as it was. AFAIK Hitlers gave strict orders to Rommel and the DAK to simply hold the line and not to attack. These orders were intercepted and deciphered by ULTRA. IIRC the British front formations were imformed that they would not have to expect any Axis offensive actions for several weeks.
    Last edited by Hanov; 09 Dec 13, 08:09.
    One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Dogsbody67 View Post
      .

      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.
      I think that's a reasonable and more likely scenario. Dumb luck like the torpedo that struck the Bismarck's rudders, causing irreparable damage and forcing it to steam in circles.

      IIRC, during the battle of Britain, a German bomber crew jettisoned bombs over London due to a navigational error. Soon after that, the Luftwaffe turned its attention away from bombing the airfields and instead, bombed the cities.
      Hitler played Golf. His bunker shot was a hole in one.

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      • #18
        About the Bismarck. If the ship had made it to port would that have been that much of a gain for the Germans? The RN would have had a distance watch over the port and airstrikes would have been possible to disable or destroy it. Wouldn't the situation have been analagous to the Graf Spee at Montevideo, a cornered battleship that had to either stay in port or sally out on a suicide mission?

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Sign&Print Name View Post
          I think that's a reasonable and more likely scenario. Dumb luck like the torpedo that struck the Bismarck's rudders, causing irreparable damage and forcing it to steam in circles.

          IIRC, during the battle of Britain, a German bomber crew jettisoned bombs over London due to a navigational error. Soon after that, the Luftwaffe turned its attention away from bombing the airfields and instead, bombed the cities.
          Dumb luck taking a hand for good or ill is one of those things that no amount of planning can prepare for. Whenever a person was recommended for promotion to Napoleon he was reputed to ask, "But is he lucky?"
          HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

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

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Tuor View Post
            About the Bismarck. If the ship had made it to port would that have been that much of a gain for the Germans? The RN would have had a distance watch over the port and airstrikes would have been possible to disable or destroy it. Wouldn't the situation have been analagous to the Graf Spee at Montevideo, a cornered battleship that had to either stay in port or sally out on a suicide mission?
            I reckon you have a very good point there - even allowing for the lack of really heavy bombs available to the RAF (or the aircraft to carry them at that time), I reckon Bismarck would have been destroyed in harbour or sunk trying to make a break through the Channel - there would be no escape for the ship that sank Hood. I know that Scharnhorst, Gneisenau & Prinz Eugen made it through the English Channel in 1942 but damaged national pride would have made Bismarks destruction by the RN / RAF a priority, especially for Churchill.
            HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

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

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            • #21
              Not Enigma based.

              The British rec'd plenty of HUMINT from Norway, Sweden & France before and during Rheinübung. Shipborne radar was used for tracking, Bismarck was observed by aerial recon. at various times, notably while trying to escape, and also gave her position away when transmitting a long radio message to France, which was intercepted by and correlated by HF/DF. Even without ULTRA, that means that Bismarck's intent was determined, she was tracked, engaged, damaged, found, then sunk; although ULTRA was certainly nice to have.
              "I am Groot"
              - Groot

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                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....
                Would it really take so much?

                I'd be happy with ten or so verifiable and major items that were acted on during 1941 that had a real effect on the course of the war.
                Then we can decide on this OP.
                "Why is the Rum gone?"

                -Captain Jack

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                • #23
                  I've got ten books on the subject on my shelves, totaling well over 1,500 pages, all of which I've read, some more than once. Without going back through I can say Enigma was important in those years, and not because of ten messages that changed the course of the war. My training in military intelligence was neither deep nor lengthly, but from that and some 20+ months experience in that secondary job I can say that game changing info is built out of small puzzle pieces that are fit together to make a useful picture. One message decrypted does not shorten a war by a month or week, forty messages do. The books make much of Rocheforts clever ruse to cause the Japanese navy to divulge their objective in the penetrated JN25 code. But, without the decryption of many other messages that month the famous water distillation message would have been meaningless & hardly possible.

                  In 1940 the Enigma messages of the German air force were the most easily decrypted, and in the aggregate gave the RAF leaders a fair idea of how the battle was headed.

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                  • #24
                    If Germans want to destroy Bletchley Park, they would need to have knowledge about Ultra and certain weaknesses in use of Enigma. It would be easier to correct those weaknesses like for example poor practices and so on. Enigma in principle was quite robust system, it was mainly ways Germans used it which gave necessary clues for British code breakers.

                    So, first cipher all that weather data with same security level as all other traffic, then avoid certain manners like typing xxx as test characters and so on, and yes finally make Enigma machines with more spindles and plugging options.

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                    • #25
                      Nah. Leave the Nazis to blunder into history

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                      • #26
                        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.
                        Quite the question. That would be a very interesting exploration. I, for one, would buy the book. It is very much an unexplored aspect of Ultra. The reasons for that might be as interesting as the first book!

                        Gave you a pip recently, can't offer another. Very good question.

                        Regards
                        Scott Fraser
                        Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                        A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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                        • #27
                          With reference to Dogsbody's more plausible destruction of Bletchley Park - which in view of the strung out nature of the place is unlikely to have caused complete destruction.

                          Well, yes, if the likes of Turing and a number of the other key players had been taken out it would indeed have been a set back. But it is important to realise that not all the eggs were in the one basket - there were others who were in the know as to how the codes were being broken and how encryption and decryption worked. Tommy Flowers and the other technicians and engineers involved in the design and construction of the equipment and computers would most likely not have been there at the time, and in any case the design information would have been logged in one or two other places. It would have no doubt been a costly 'hit', but not an impossible one to overcome - given time - time which would have cost lives and assets.

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