Monday, September 11, 2006

Cracking the Code

The second letter in this section makes a very valid point, praising the first link in the chain required to break the enigma code:
Hundreds of members of the Royal Signals and girls of the Y Signals Auxiliary Territorial Services (ATS) worked at radio sets, covering 24 hours a day, recording vague and faint messages in code transmitted by the German forces. They worked in isolation and had no idea of the importance or destination of their "scribble"; all they knew was that tight secrecy was essential.
True, but omits a crucial aspect of this job which thereby understates the dedication of these, relatively lowly, operatives. the accuracy of the transcription was of paramount importance. In order to make a break, the teams needed to have absolutely accurate encrypted messages - a few mistaken letters could threaten the decryption process.
The tedium of recording long strings of letters from the original morse code transmissions, apparently entirely at random, day after day cannot be imagined. They had to overcome this tedium to get it right, and with absolutely no idea what any of it was for, save the exortation that it was a) secret and b) important. That is real dedication.

1 comment:

dearieme said...

"The Battle of Britain was won by a few hundred young men in their Spitfires and Hurricanes and a few hundred young women at their plotting tables." I can't remember who wrote that, but it was rather fine, I thought.