On this day : The 9th of May 1941

Enigma Machine Captured

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Alan Turing and his fellow cryptographers in the famous hut 8 at Bletchley Park cracked many German codes by their formidable intellects alone, but triumph over the fiendishly difficult German naval code was facilitated by a huge stroke of fortune on May 9 1941. A British destroyer (rather than the Hollywood American ship) off Iceland was bearing down on the surfaced U-110, apparently about to ram her. The German Captain hastily ordered his crew to abandon ship, not bothering to destroy the enigma code machine on board or scuttle his vessel. But once the crew had taken to the water the British ship veered off; the enigma machine was retrieved and then to make the German navy believe its system had not been compromised, the U-boat sunk.
No one moment wins a war; but the capture of the machine and the subsequent ability of the British and American navy to decode German naval messages was extremely significant in the Battle of the Atlantic which kept open the vital supply routes to Britain from the USA and Canada.

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