TICOM and the Intelligence Corps

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*Oeser, O. Wing Commander RAFVR. (Chief TRO)
  • A Cambridge psychologist and friend of Winterbotham, he had joined Hut 3 in the summer of 1940. In 1941 he was Hut 3 Dep. Air Advisor. By June 1942 was Head of Hut 3(Air) and by late 1942 he was head of the newly formed Hut 3(L) where he made Enigma and Fish priority decisions. He became professor of psychology at the University of Melbourne. By the age of 27 he had graduated from four universities in three countries and had gained doctorates in two disciplines.
*Campaigne, H. Lieutenant Commander USNR (Deputy Chief)
  • As a young man with a PhD in mathematics he had sent the navy a homemade design for an encryption device which was rejected. He gained his commission in December 1941. He was eventually to become NSA research chief as head of REMP (Research, Engineering, Math & Physics).
Barringer, H. Capt AUS. (US Army).
Carter, T. Captain IC (Intelligence Corps)

A Lieutenant though there was a Captain TM Carter at the time in the Corps working in ‘Special employment’ which usually referred to serving in MI5, MI6, MI8; there is no record of his working at B.P..

Cockerell, H. Lieutenant RNVR

He served in the Naval Section of B.P. where he was department head of N.S.111J Administration and Manning. After TICOM, he and Pickering stayed on in Germany in search of various wanted persons

Coolidge, J. Lieutenant (J.G) USNR Crowe, R. Major AUS.
Donahue, O. Major AUS

From Yale, Sent to B.P.. together with Gwynne Evans from Harvard and Howard Porter from Columbia he worked in Hut 3

Eldridge, J. Major AUS

Together with Formantak (below) he accompanied Major Tester to Pfunds 40 miles SW Tester had single-mindedly been trying to track down the actual equipment after all his efforts to break it blind.

Formantak, C. Capt. AUS
Lawrance, I. Captain IC

Again, a Lieutenant although there was a Captain LW Lawrance at the time in the Corps working in ‘special employment’ there is no record of his serving at B.P.. He is not listed in Special Duties & the Intelligence Corps

Levensen, A. 1st Lieutenant. AUS.

A New Yorker and mathematician he had spent time on code problems before transferring to the UK and Bletchley Park

As a cryptographer, He was in Block D(6) and Block F, & Hut 6 in the research sub- section. Later he was in both the Testery and Newmanry. Together with Whitaker, Norland and seven other cryptologic officers he had come to the UK in July 1943 on

the Aquitania, the first US codebreakers to be assigned to B.P. where he worked from July 1943 to Jan 1946. He was secretary of the B.P.. chess club. B.P..’s chess and bridge clubs must have been awesome, including as it did, at one time, the entire British bridge team and the leading chess player.

Lively, J. First Lieutenant AUS. Maxwell, I. Pilot Officer. RAFVR.
Pilot Officer Maxwell worked in Hut 6 at B.P.
*McIntosh, A. Major IC

Originally coming to B.P. from the Tank Corps, a linguistics expert whose speciality was Middle English, he held degrees from both Oxford and Harvard. He worked at B.P.. in the Newmanry & Testery 1941–1945 where he was involved in the design of the Dragon machine for testing cribs against enciphered messages. He was later to have a distinguished academic career in English language and linguistics.

*Norland, S. 1st Lieutenant AUS.

He was one of the earliest US recruits to B.P. Before entering the Army in 1942 he taught history and German in a local high school. He worked in Hut 3 with Whitaker as a translator

Pickering; F. Lieutenant Colonel IC.

There is no Lieutenant Colonel Pickering shown as working at B.P. nor in the Army List of that time in the Intelligence Corps. It is 100% certain that it was Dr Frederick Pickering who was at B.P.. 1941–46. He worked in Hut 3, Block D(3) and specialised in the analysis of the German Signal Intelligence organisation.

Porter Howard.

He came from Columbia University. A notable linguistics scholar, he worked in Hut 3. He returned to become a professor of linguistics in the Department of Greek & Latin at Columbia University

Rood, l. Lieutenant Colonel AUS.

He was with the SLU* at the first Tactical Airforce and was critical of B.P. strategy post-D-Day in ‘Piercing the Fog Intelligence and Army Air Force Operations in WWII which he co-authored. He was very critical of *Winterbotham’s ‘Special Liaison Units’

*Rushworth, E. Major IC.

Major Edward (Rush) Rushwort worked in Hut 3 and Hut 6 Fusion Room & SIXTA on the long-term analyses of enemy order of battle and operations

*Sayres, G. Flight Lieutenant RAFVR.

It is possible but unlikely that this is Pilot Officer P.N. Sayers who worked in Hut 3 seconded from Air Section. There is no one of the name Sayres recorded as being at B.P.

*Stone, l. Capt AUS

Capt (Lou) Stone represented the US Special Branch. By this time, US Military Intelligence was presenting a far more unified picture than previously with G-2 having won the fight to take over the Signal Security Agency from the Signal Corps

*Tester, R. Major IC.

Major Ralph Tester worked in Hut 5 and then the ‘Testery’ and was one of the very few heads of departments to have it named after him (the other was Newman and the Newmanry) He had joined the Military Research team in 1940, becoming head of Testery, breaking Fish codes by hand methods, the only method available until the arrival of Heath Robinson and Colossus

*Whitaker, P. 1st Lieutenant AUS.

For two years he had been assigned to Hut 3. Before joining the army in 1942 he had studied and taught German in the USA, Germany and Austria. At 38 he was considerably older than his fellow junior officers. It is thanks to his diaries and photographs that we know so much detail about TICOM teams other than from the NSA report.

* Original Team 1 personnel, the others were attached for varying periods.

TICOM Team 2 personnel:

Major Charles J. Donahue, AUS (chief TRO) See above Team 1
Capt Thomas M. Carter, IC (deputy chief)

He worked at B.P. in the Military Section and then SIXTA. Lieutenant Hugh A. L. Cockerell, RNVR

This is presumably the same person as served in Team 1

Capt Leslie W. Lawrence, IC

Capt L.W. Lawrence is not recorded as having been employed at B.P. but he served in Special Employment. See above Team 1

Capt Henry C. Barringer, AUS

Dr Barringer went on to serve with the US Foreign Service in Burundi, Colombia, Congo, Denmark, Germany and Greece. In 1970 he founded the US National Peace Academy and was the co-creator of the Center for Conflict Resolution

Captain James K. Lively, AUS
First Lieutenant Arthur J. Levenson, AUS See above Team 1
Pilot Officer Ian C.M. Maxwell, RAFVR He worked in Hut 6
Corporal J.W. Biggin, w/t operator Lance Corporal l. Tyler, w/t operator Corporal Ralph H. Brazel, driver
T/5 Fredrick Muzer, driver

TICOM Team 3 personnel:

Lieutenant Colonel Paul E. Neff

Major Paul E Neff had worked at B.P. 1943-44 in the Military Section specialising in Italian traffic

Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey H. Evans

Almost certainly this was Major G.H. Evans of the Intelligence Corps who worked in Military Section B.P.. from1940. He was head of No 4 Intelligence School and then sub-section B. In Feb 1945 he was head of the German police sub-section. Post-war he went on to write the ‘History of Interception’.

Major William P. Bundy

He trained as a lawyer at Harvard but left to join the Army Signal Corps, working at B.P.. During the 50’she worked as an analyst for the CIA and was chief of staff at the Office of National Estimates.

Captain R.W. Adams Captain D. M. MacIntyre

A US Army officer. He worked at B.P. in the Military Section and SIXTA Sergeant I. Loram

Sergeant F.A. Marx Corporal Schnabel

TICOM Team 4 personnel:

Lieutenant Commander Howard Campaigne, USNR. Lieutenant Evelyn Talbot-Ponsonby, RNVR

Served at B.P. 1940-45 in Hut 4 and Block B. In Naval Section IV(GO), Block B, Room 7 and Hut 4 (Naval Section(historical)

Lieutenant Christopher Huntington

USNR He worked in B.P. Naval Section

Corporal A.G. Abel. Royal Signals, SCU. 8.

SCU units were MI6’s main radio conduits

Captain M.A.G. Wingate, of the Intelligence Corps, later joined them.

He worked in Hut 6, Block D(6) SIXTA and the Military Section whilst at B.P. until 1945

TICOM Team 6 personnel:

Commander A.M.S. Mackenzie, RNVR, C.O.

Lieutenant Commander served at B.P. from June 1940 to 1946 46, He worked in Hut 4 & Block B Naval Section NS VIII, Records and NS IV submarines and hydrography.

Lieutenant John Nuelsen, USNR, X.O.

He worked at B.P. in the naval section.

Lieutenant Commander Leonard A. Griffiths

Lieutenant Commander RNVR joined B.P. in the spring 1941 to 1946 and worked in Hut 4 and Block A. In late 1943 he was Head of NS VII (surface vessels & General Intelligence), by mid-1944 was Head of Naval Section Research. Post-war he joined the Foreign Office and continued to work at GCHQ

Lieutenant Howard J. Horton

An H Horton is shown as working at Bletchley. He is not recorded as being a member of the Corps nor with any military rank. Almost certainly naval

Sub Lieutenant E. Morgan

He worked at B.P. in Naval Section US Navy

Lieutenant. (j.g.) M. Gaschk,
USN Ensign P. Phillips, USN

US Army

Major William F. Edgerton,
Lieutenant Oliver R. Kirby
Lieutenant Louis Laptook

British Army

Lieutenant Geoffrey H. Evans IC

Though the Army List shows him as being a lieutenant, B.P. records list him as Major. He had joined B.P.. Military Section back in 1940 and was at one time Head of 4 I.S. (Intelligence School). By Feb. 1945 he was head of the German Police Sub-section and went on to write the History of Interception for B.P..

Major Eric K. Morrison IC

Major Eric Keir Morrison was at B.P. from 1941 to 1945. He worked in Hut 6, Block D(6), Block G, Special Liaison Party, later to become SIXTA. He specialised in traffic analysis and the development of diagrams to identify German Morse networks.

Captain M.J.M. Horsfield IC
Captain Horsfield worked in Block F(Mil. E) and Hut 10 Royal Signals
Corporal Roberts
Corporal Tansley
Driver Fisher
Driver Hewetson

TICOM Team 5

Had no British personnel consisting, as it did, of mainly divers for the one specific Operation.

As is so often the case, the part that members of the Corps played in one of the most important Sigint operations of WWII and the Cold War has never been publicised, indeed the operation known as TICOM itself, is unknown to the general public, and some of the details nearly seventy years later are still not officially released by GCHQ and NSA. It is an extraordinary story that deserves to be told as far as possible, particularly in the context of members of the Corps who played a significant role.

Just five days after Hitler’s suicide, General William O. Donovan, Chief of the Office of Strategic Services, delivered a secret report to President Harry Truman outlining the dangers of a potential conflict with the USSR. With the successful conclusion of World War II, Donovan warned, ‘the United States will be confronted with a situation potentially more dangerous than any preceding one’. ‘Russia,’ he cautioned, ‘would become a menace more formidable to the United States than any yet known’. Serious consideration had already been given to continuing the Allied advance into Germany and attacking the Russians. Many senior US Generals were very much in favour. For many Germans this was seen as the  logical conclusion and their one remaining hope for escaping from inevitable defeat and unconditional surrender. The Germans had been sending out unofficial feelers for some time hoping to bring this about. By early 1945 Himmler had lost faith in a German victory, likely due, in part, to his discussions (extraordinary though it may sound) with his masseur Felix Kersten who had a great deaal of influence over him and with WaLieutenanter Schellenberg who, following the abolition of the Abwehr, was the S.S. Brigadeführer and Head of Foreign Intelligence. He, Himmler, had come to realise that, if the Nazi regime were to survive in any form, it needed to seek a peace with Britain and the US He still nurtured dreams of being Hitler’s successor

For nearly a year, both Washington and London had been secretly planning for the first battle of the new Cold War. This so-called war – it never featured direct military action – unlike in the past, would be fought in the shadows and many of its actions would be denied.

The initial goal would be the capture of signals material in all its forms rather than cities and being able to understand and interpret it, extracting all the available intelligence. This would eventually escalate into a war involving both sides being dependent on the yet to be invented computers and the creation of complex mathematical algorithms and they, rather than men, brawn, machines and munitions, would eventually determine the winner – if there was to be one. The main battlefield on which the war would be fought was already known as signals intelligence, Sigint, to the initiated — a polite term for reading someone else’s mail. It had been fought over since virtually the beginning of the century and the discovery of wireless. In particular, Ultra, mainly the reading of Enigma traffic, as it was known, had since 1940, played a vital role in the approaching defeat of Nazi Germany and several tens of thousands had been employed by all sides in this ongoing battle.

As the European war drew to a climax in the summer of 1944, the technological advantages that the Germans had demonstrated in tanks, jet aircraft, rockets and missiles had become all too apparent, causing great concern among Allied planners. A number of intelligence operations, planned to become operational as soon as practicable in the event of a German collapse, were designed to seize as much of the intellectual property of the Third Reich as possible. Loosely co-ordinated by the Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub- committee, a number of these operations were planned, such as ALSOS, which would search for nuclear information and research, OVERCAST, dedicated to the capture of rockets, and SURGEON, the search for avionics and jet technology.

The ALSOS Mission was part of the Manhattan Project, the Allied effort to build an atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project was also charged with co-ordinating foreign intelligence related to enemy nuclear activity, and the ALSOS Mission was created following the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943, to investigate Germany’s nuclear progress. ALSOS Mission personnel followed close behind the front lines, and occasionally behind enemy lines, first in Italy, and later in France and Germany. They searched for personnel, records, material, and sites to evaluate the German nuclear project, hoping to further American research, and prevent their capture by the Soviet Union. It was not restricted to nuclear weapons, but also investigated chemical and biological weapons and the means to deliver them. ALSOS personnel managed to find and ‘remove’ many of the German research effort’s personnel, along with a substantial portion of the surviving records and equipment, taking most of the senior German research personnel into custody.

Operation Paperclip was a secret project of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Much of its work still remains classified. It was executed by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) (similar to today’s Joint Chiefs of Staff). Its purpose was to recruit Nazi Germany’s top scientists for employment in the US. Of particular interest were aerodynamics and rocketry scientists and experts in chemical weaponry, chemical reaction technology, and medicine. The reasoning behind Operation Paperclip was twofold: firstly, to take advantage of these brilliant minds for US benefit and in the developing Cold War, to deny them to Soviet Russia. From the very beginning, technology had played a vital role in WWII but one innovation in particular was causing concern to the Allies. The Germans had finally developed the V-2 rocket, the first long-range ballistic missile, which had been used to disastrous effect in the bombing of London from a distance and with an accuracy previously believed to be impossible. It was based on technology far ahead of that of the USA and would be the forerunner of all modern rockets in today’s space programmes. When its effectiveness as a weapon was seen on London, the V-2 and other impressive technologies such as the jet fighter Me262 being manufactured and developed by Nazi Germany became the envy and the target of the Allied forces, both to destroy them as weapons and to obtain its technology and to deny it to the Soviets. Initial immediate targets were those technologies that could be used against the Japanese, but Ultra research and further technological breakthroughs was also a priority since one fear was that the German scientists would emigrate to countries that still remained sympathetic to Nazi Germany and continue their research there. Another fear was that these scientists would join the Communist regime leading to a dangerous tilting of the scales of the Cold War in favour of the USSR.

By then, Germany was in no position to defend itself from the advancing Red Army. Their only hope lay in developing new technologies that might save them in the same way as it had secured them success in the early days of the war. Germany had finally realised that in order to support the war effort it needed to re-employ the scientists that they previously dismissed with the strict implementation of Nazi ideology and so they began identifying and locating them, going on to test their allegiance to the Nazi State. Werner Osenberg the scientist heading the Wehrforschunggemeinshaft (Military Research Association) recorded the names of those who were deemed to be loyal Nazis on what became known as the Osenberg list. There is a unconfirmed story that claims that a Polish laboratory technician working at Bonn University found pieces of this list stuffed into a toilet and from there,  using the resistance movement, it ended up in the hands of MI6 who translated it and, after studying it, passed it on to US Intelligence who then used it to help compile lists of those who could take part in what would become known as Operation Paperclip.

In the context of the burgeoning Cold War, one purpose of Operation Paperclip was to deny German scientific knowledge and expertise to the USSR and, surprisingly, to their closest ally Great Britain and unsurprisingly, (divided) Germany itself. Originally the plan was to just interrogate these scientists but when it was discovered that many of those on the list had helped develop the V2 rocket – 4,000 of them had been allowed by the Nazis to return to work at Peenemünde – they were rounded up in camps for further interrogation with the intention of sending many of them to work in the USA. One of these camps was Camp Overcast, later becoming known as part of Operation Paperclip when the camp and its purpose first became known to the public. President Harry Truman did not formally order the execution of Operation Paperclip until August 1945 by which time it was well under way. Truman’s order expressly excluded anyone found ‘to have been a member of the Nazi Party, and more than a nominal participant in its activities, or an active supporter of Nazi militarism’. However, those restrictions would have rendered ineligible most of the leading scientists the JIOA had identified for recruitment, among them rocket scientists Werner von Braun and Arthur Rudolph and the physicist Hubertus Strughold,1   each of whom had earlier been classified as a ‘menace to the security of the Allied Forces’ but, nevertheless, were top of the American shopping list.

To circumvent President Truman’s anti-Nazi order and the Allies’ Potsdam and Yalta agreements, the JIOA worked independently to create false employment and political biographies for the scientists. The JIOA also expunged from the public record the scientists’

1 Brought to the USA in 1947, he became known as the Father of Space Medicine. Following his death, his activities under the Nazis came under greater scrutiny and allegations surrounding his involvement in wartime experimentation conducted on the inmates of Dachau concentration camp greatly diminished his reputation.

Nazi Party memberships and régime affiliations. Once ;bleached; of their Nazism, the US government granted the scientists security clearance to work in the United States.

Operation Surgeon was a British post-WWII programme to exploit German aeronautics and deny German technical skills to the Soviet Union. A list of 1,500 German scientists and technicians was drawn up. The policy was to forcibly remove the scientists from Germany whether they liked it or not to lessen the risk of them falling into enemy hands. It was  feared that if they were allowed to remain in Germany and be captured they might, amongst other things, enable the Soviet Union to ‘achieve a long-range bomber force superior to any other in the world’. Of the removed scientists in the years 1946–1947, 100 chose to work for the UK. Many of the listed scientists had already offered their services to British Commonweath countries, Sweden, Switzerland, Brazil and South America at the inception of the operation and regarded working for the Soviet Union as a last resort if stopped from working in Germany and unable to find employment elsewhere in the west.

These operations have been well documented in both popular and academic literature since the war. However, a lesser-known operation, TICOM, which targeted the Capture of German signals intelligence organisations remained top secret for many years and to this day some of the detail still remains shrouded in mystery and its release is still not sanctioned. The acronym TICOM served as a cover name for a Top Secret special project, The Target Intelligence Committee. According to one source2   it was originally conceived by Colonel George A. Bicher, the Director of the Signal Intelligence Division of ETOUSA, (European Theater of Operations United States Army) in the summer of 1944 and was aimed at the ‘investigation and the possible exploitation of German cryptologic organisations, operations, installations and personnel’. His view then was that this should be done as soon as possible bearing in mind the impending collapse of the German armed forces. Interestingly,  Parrish3     an  important  member  of  the  project  and  who  was  in  as  good  a position as anyone to know, gave the credit for the creation of the initial plan to GCHQ rather than Bicher, claiming that when Gen Marshall got to hear of it he immediately demanded that the Americans be included on an equal basis.4   This is possible, however, the official synopsis of the TICOM report makes it clear that the credit has to go to Bicher. We have to bear in mind, though, that this was written by US officials. The organisation was so secret that even today (at the time of writing), more than half a century later, some details concerning its operations and activities remain classified higher than top secret by both the American and British governments.

Until 1938 Britain had given top priority to Russian signals traffic in the ‘battle’ against the Comintern, but following the rise of the Nazis and the outbreak of war, it had been given a very low priority for some years. The USA had given it even less – virtually ignoring it. Now with luck, however, somewhere in the ruins that were Germany the Allies might find a key that would unlock a number of complex Soviet codes, which would then make up for this lost time, saving years of frustrating work. Knowing the German penchant for orderliness, some storerooms, somewhere, might even contain many thousands of intercepted and possibly decoded Russian signal messages, offering insights into Soviet military and political intentions after the war. An added bonus could be that, at the same time, interrogation transcripts and other documents might reveal hitherto unknown weaknesses in American and British cryptography, weaknesses that might prove fatal in any future conflict.

  • James Bamford, Body of Secrets, Doubleday, 2001, p. 8.
  • Thomas Parrish, The American Codebreakers, Stein & Day, 1986. 4 Thomas Parrish, Ibid p. 276

There are currently very few original sources for discovering something of what actually went on in these TICOM operations. Writers such as Richard Aldrich (GCHQ Harper 2010) and Nigel West (GCHQ the Secret Wireless War, Weidenfield 1986) here in the UK and James Bamford (Body of Secrets, Century 2001) and Thomas Parrish (The American Codebreakers, Stein 1986) in the USA who have all written about Sigint and TICOM in particular have all had to go to these same sources. What are they? Firstly there is the NSA TICOM report (in nine volumes), immensely detailed and freely available on the web (apart from some very obvious redaction), which is particularly good and essential reading when it comes to an analysis of where and what the Germans achieved within Sigint. They are no longer secret but there is considerable evidence of information still being withheld by the frequent use of black ink on the reports on the NSA TICOM website. The reports tell us in great detail who were in the various teams and has reports on all the interrogations that took place. What they do lack though, is much in the way of detailed personal accounts of the extraordinary events. We do, though, have indirectly the second source, the diary of Dr Paul K. Whitaker, a member of one of the teams. Added to this, there are his photographs and notes which have never been published in full but have been seen and are referred to frequently. Bamford, one of the leading authorities on the world of Sigint, not surprisingly claims that he has a copy of this diary and he, indisputably also interviewed Whitaker in January 1999. Thomas Parrish, another writer on Sigint, was fulsome in his praise for Whitaker and acknowledges freely that it is from this diary, journals, orders and his photographs that we can learn so much through his work about the gems uncovered by the TICOM teams. It is particularly important as Whitaker is currently, probably, the only source when it comes to learning about the search for and finding the German equipment that was found to be capable of reading the most advanced of Russian teleprinter communications; as far as can be established its existence is not mentioned in the TICOM report and still (as at 2012) has to be formally confirmed by NSA and GCHQ although publication has been promised. The third  source  is  part  of  an  oral  history  project  carried  out  by  NSA  in  which  Levensen5     is interviewed about his time in Sigint both in the USA and Bletchley Park, which has been quoted from here and also Dr Howard Campaigne’s recollections.6    Levenson is particularly helpful for learning about Jellyfish – Field Marshall Kesselring’s Geheimschreiber link labelled Jellyfish by B.P..

More  than  a  month  before  Hitler’s  death,  the  TICOM  operation  moved  into  a new phase. Planning was complete although many aspects of the original plan, not least, the hare-brained idea of parachuting into Germany teams of experts, had been dropped. It was now envisaged that small teams of American and British codebreakers would board aircraft in southern England and head towards Germany via France. These teams would be part of a unique, highly secret organisation whose mission in the last days of the war was to locate and capture as many German cryptologists and cipher machines as possible. Armed with these, Allied cryptologists hoped to discover which of their cipher systems might have been broken, and had been vulnerable to attack. At the same time, because the Germans were believed to have developed advanced systems capable of being able to attack Soviet codes and ciphers, if they could get their hands on them without the Russians knowing, the West could possibly gain an invaluable shortcut to finding ways to break Russian cipher systems, making up for the time that had been lost between 1938 and 1944. The key, however, was finding the German men and machines before the Russians. TICOM was finally under way.

5 NSA-OH-40-80. 25/11/80

6 NSA-OH-20-83

This was not the first or only attempt that the Americans had made to get their hands on German Ultra in advance of the Russians.7   On 7 April, Colonel Robert S. Allen, a G-2 with the US 3rd Army, had been investigating captured German signals installations which, because they had been fairly far forward, were now behind the advancing US line. This mission was successful and so, encouraged by this, Allen and his team joined another officer, who supposedly knew the enemy’s current positions, to carry out a further mission. Unfortunately he led them so far forward that they, in turn, were captured by a German unit. Fortunately it was the last chaotic days of the conflict and they were soon released by advancing US troops. The Germans had not had the time or the opportunity to interrogate them.

In the planning for the mission, the location of the centres which were of potential interest to TICOM had been pinpointed by means of Ultra decrypts of messages and also through prisoner of war interrogations. Nearly all of the known key cryptologic targets were located in Berlin, which gave an added urgency to the undertaking. Under the Three-Power agreement, ratified at the Yalta conference in February 1945, Russian forces would shortly occupy the surrounding area and the final fate of Berlin had yet to be finalised, the Germans had still not surrendered. So, as the original TICOM report put it, ‘the plan contemplated a simultaneous seizure and exploitation of the chief Sigint centers through an air-borne action’. The Target Intelligence Committee had originally envisaged an airborne operation taking place even before the total Collapse of Germany and with experts being dropped into areas which still had to be occupied in order to seize important German signals intelligence targets. This would involve parachuting right to the actual front; possibly into built-up areas, supported by a battalion from the 101st Parachute Division. This was gung-ho USA at its best. The theory was that the paratroopers would hold on until relieved by a rapidly approaching US armoured column. There was possibly a slight snag as there is no record of any of those selected for the teams ever participating in any parachute training. Certainly none of the British contingent had any previous experience. As far as can be established, most of the US contingent, apart from Levensen had received minimal military training prior to their being commissioned. By the spring of 1945 conditions for carrying out the proposed airborne missions had deteriorated. This original plan – to parachute them in to Berlin supported by a battalion of paratroopers – was finally (not surprisingly) considered impractical and unduly hazardous. In addition to the dangers from landing almost on the German front line, what would happen should the Russian forces got there first, which was extremely likely and they landed in their laps? After all, those chosen for the mission were privy to some of the most important secrets of the war.

There was evidence that the German Sigint agencies, at least those of which the Allies were aware, were dispersing or retreating to other locations, often in complete disorder, could no longer be located with any degree of accuracy and so the possibility that Anglo- American parachute units could seize worthwhile personnel and material and hold them in the midst and confusion of Major battles was remote. There was also the growing threat from the rapid advance of the Soviet armies. They could well have provided a very unwelcome welcoming party; the plan was, after all, potentially a flagrant contravention of the Yalta agreement.

7 Ibid p. 275

TICOM finally decided in March 1945 that, instead of this airborne mission, they would set up six US–UK target exploitation teams in England which would be sent into enemy territory as either the British or US troops overran it. Their stated mission was to ‘take over and exploit, in any way possible, newly discovered targets of signals intelligence interest and to search for other signals intelligence targets, equipment and personnel’.

Four objectives for the TICOM Teams were laid down:

  • To learn the extent of the German cryptanalytic efforts against England and USA
  • To prevent the results of such German cryptanalysis from falling into unauthorised or Soviet hands as the German armies retreated and collapsed.
  • To exploit what the German cryptologic had already achieved.
  • To uncover items of potential signal intelligence value in prosecuting the war against Japan in the Far East.

At this stage there was no specific mention of any investigation into the German Sigint effort against the Soviets although it was undoubtedly a prime target despite the USSR still being Allies. It would be naïve to think otherwise, but reluctance to record it as an objective in the formal statement of intent is quite understandable.

The initial planning of the mission and operation of TICOM was carried out mainly at GC & CS (GCHQ). Detailed briefs were compiled based on locations which had been learned mainly from personnel who had served in other German cryptographical organisations, which were by then in the hands of the Allies. Finally, it was decided to concentrate on six targets all of which were in the Berlin area.

Priority No.1 was given to the Signal Intelligence Agency of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (OKW/Chi) which was thought to be the principal diplomatic cryptographic agency. It was thought by some – eventually erroneously – that it might even have been the German equivalent of GC & CS.

Priority No. 2 was assigned to finding three agencies. Firstly the Army Inspectorate 7/VI (OKH/IN 7/VI) which had been tentatively located in the Jüterbog area; secondly, the Signal Intelligence Agency of the Air Force High Command (OKW/LN ABT/350 whose location had been pinpointed as being at Potsdam–Wildpark and, thirdly, the Signal Intelligence Agency of the Navy High Command (OKM/4) SKL/11) by then known to be located at Eberswalde.

Training started as Aldrich put it, ‘suddenly boffins in glasses and cardigans (a touch of poetic  licence  on  his  part,  perhaps)  found  themselves  turned  into  amateur  commandos’.8 Whisked away to a quarry (more likely to have been a derelict claypit in the local brickfields if it had ever happened) near Bletchley, those selected for the task were given ‘a short course in the use of sub-machine (Sten) guns and hand grenades’. These newly acquired skills – if this is what they were – fortunately were never to be put to the test. Apart from this account by Aldrich there is no evidence of any of this training actually happening but it is not unreasonable to expect some training did take place despite the fact that with the virtual Collapse of Nazi Germany well under way the need for these military skills had considerably lessened.

8 GCHQ. Richard J Aldrich, pp. 48–56.

The TICOM mission was of the utmost importance because US and British cryptographers did not know then, with any degree of certainty, the extent to which their communications were secure or insecure, nor did they know the extent of the enemy’s cryptanalytic capabilities, strengths and materials apart from what had been established from POW interrogations and conjecture or inference from USA–UK cryptanalysis of German systems. German successes were obviously unpublicised as were those of GC & CS, but they would undoubtedly have existed and would have been reflected in higher Allied casualty lists and the lessened success of Allied tactics and strategy. The stories of these teams striving to locate what could be vital information in those confused days just before and after German capitulation makes both entertaining and instructive reading and when so doing it is sometimes difficult to think that this was happening in the last few days of a war that had torn Europe apart and had led to the virtual destruction of one of Europe’s greatest countries.

What is thought-provoking is the fact that included amongst those selected to join the teams were so many who were privy to some of the most important secrets of WW2 and had they have been captured by either the Germans or the Russians the repercussions could have had the most serious effect on the outcome of the Cold War. The first team was despatched in April 1945 to the Berchtesgaden area in the Bavarian Alps charged with searching for the remnants of the Signal Intelligence Agency of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (OKW/Chi). It discovered the former headquarters of Goering’s Research Bureau (FA) and captured or traced in various POW camps a handful of its personnel. They also located a German unit designed to intercept Russian non-Morse (Baudot) traffic.

Although B.P. had solved the mysteries of the current Enigma there was still the problem of the Geheimschreiber or secret writer, which until then, seemingly, had been reserved for the very highest level messages including those coming from Hitler personally. When the US Navy had become aware that British teams such as the Testery and the Newmanry working at Bletchley Park had made substantial progress, thanks to the efforts of Bill Tutte and Peter Hilton under Max Newman of the Newmanry, against the German high-level online teleprinter traffic (Fish), the Head of US naval cryptanalysis instructed his top technical expert, Captain Engstrom to send someone to join TICOM, appreciating that it could hold so much potential for the future. Lieutenant Commander Campaigne was picked since he had already worked for a year in the Newmanry at GC & CS, and was ideally suited for the role. He, together with fellow Americans, Whitaker, Norland and Levensen joined Major Tester in a team giving it a very good coverage of Fish both mathematically and linguistically.

Although signals had been detected well before the outbreak of war, the first FISH traffic (given the code name Tunny) had been intercepted by GC&CS in mid-1941, with the first Sturgeon circuit being detected later that year. By January 1942, Bletchley Park understood the design and operation of Tunny and by mid-year had analysed the Sturgeon system. The decision was made to concentrate on the Tunny traffic, which promised a better intelligence yield. GC&CS’s knowledge of the SZ-42 was derived purely from cryptanalysis. TICOM officer Lieutenant Arthur J. Levensen recalled ‘. . . (GC&CS) wanted to capture these . . . machines. Enigma machines we had tons of. But Tunny machines we’d never seen and we were most anxious to see them’.

Fired by this success, very soon after other teams were despatched to other areas as they were overrun by the advancing US and British forces and sometimes arriving ahead of them.  Paul  Neff,  a  US  Army  Major  at  the  time  has  since  told  this  story9    of,  how  in  March 1945, several TICOM teams began to spread out across Germany in search of codebreakers, code books and their equipment and Howard Campaigne, another member of the teams has told the story of his part in the hunt for Fish.10

The groups arrived by air at Paris by air from Croydon Airport. The Kaufbeuren team, known as Team 1, consisted of nine officers, five British and four Americans with two British ORs acting as radio operators and two US drivers. Campaigne was the senior US officer whilst Wing Commander Oeser was the senior British officer and in overall command. Members of the team brought various talents: Major McIntosh for example was a distinguished linguistics expert although his speciality Middle English would not be too much use on the current assignment. Captain Lou Stone was there, representing the US Special Branch which by then had taken over the Signal Security Agency from the Signal Corps. TICOM Team 1 would keep their eyes peeled for FISH machines despite not knowing what they were looking for as they investigated Bavaria. This team had been instructed to ‘proceed to Kaufbeuren, Germany and then return to Paris after approximately 30 days’.11 Another one of the groups was to go to Flensburg where Grand Admiral Dönitz, who had been nominated the successor to Hitler, had established his Government.

The war was continuing fiercely in some parts of Germany, notably Berlin whilst, in others, negotiations were already well under way for the unconditional surrender of Germany.

When the team arrived at the Kaufbeuren airfield in Southern Bavaria which had formerly been Fliegerhorst Kommandantur A they found something in the order of 15,000 prisoners of war aimlessly milling around. They made their way through the crowds, finally reaching their objective – Building Wings 10 and 11. These had been specially sealed off when the US troops had occupied Kaufbeuren the previous week, their significance fortunately being realised. On entering Wing 10, the Luftwaffe communications centre, they were confronted by a room full of T-52 Geheimschreiber machines, the very machines that some of them had worked on in principle before but had never before seen. Unfortunately, before fleeing, the Germans had smashed the machines and their rotors were missing. These could have made a Major impact on the outcome of the war had they been put into universal operation earlier, replacing Enigma. The Siemens T-52D was undoubtedly, with the technology available then, the nearest to an ‘unbreakable’ machine.

According  to  Whitaker’s  diary,  a  couple  of  nights  after  their  arrival  in  Paris,  his team moved on to Heidelberg, staying at the Viktoria Hotel which he describes as being bleak and bare. While they were there, Germany surrendered unconditionally. The next day 8 May would be officially proclaimed VE day which they celebrated in style. The team then moved on to Augsburg in the south-west of Bavaria. Later, a subsidiary group of Team 1 under Major Ralph Tester of the Intelligence Corps, Head of the Testery at B.P. found an intact T-52 machine in the town of Pfunds 40 miles southwest of Innsbruck. Its greatest coup, however, was when few days later, as already mentioned, an army task force near Berchtesgaden captured intact the radio teleprinter communications train which had been attached to Field Marshal Kesselring’s   headquarters.   This   mobile   station   was   the   field   end   of   the communications circuit between Berlin and OB West, which had been codenamed Jellyfish by B.P.. This communications train consisted of a convoy of six German signal trucks complete with SZ-42 Tunny machines and their operating personnel. Each truck had radio transmitters, antennae, radio receivers, and encryption devices. Equipped with two bunks, they were designed to be lived in by the driver and his helper, who also set up and operated the equipment.

9. James Bamford, Body of Secrets, Doubleday, 2001

10. Ibid.

11. SHAEF orders 3 May 1945

The army task force turned the convoy over to TICOM and Major Tester and Lieutenant Levensen were ordered to accompany this convoy on the long drive back to the channel ports, making slow progress, guarded by their own German prisoners.

They left for Augsburg on May 16 with these six Diesel trucks and twelve prisoners. Crossing Europe just a few days after the surrender was problematic, finding fuel and getting permissions to cross various army areas extended the trip. Then they ran into problems in Brussels. As Levensen later explained:

When we got to Belgium … These trucks had no ‘capture’ numbers and we looked like German troops. And the people were very mad at the Germans and they were throwing things at the truck. I got hit once when they threw a tin can or something … because there were hard feelings, and it was so obvious. We never bothered to write Capture numbers on the trucks or give any identification. We did put a big star, big white star, but for all purposes it looked just like the German trucks that the natives (Belgians) had seen during the war. They must have thought, “Well, if the Wehrmacht is back, what’s going on here?” They didn’t ask questions either. They were just waiting for something, as I say. When I walked off, (the prisoners) got scared to death, they said, “No, no, stay around.”

The team finally loaded the trucks onto an LST (tank landing ship) at Ostend at the end of the week, and by the next day they were back in Beaconsfield where the trucks were set up and the Germans demonstrated their use to the Bletchley Park experts.

Whilst in Augsburg the team were based in a barracks-like building which had previously served as a Luftwaffe headquarters where they discovered in the basement a Hauptnachrichtenstelle, a signals centre. The suddenness of the departure of the previous occupants was amply confirmed by the contents of a tape which had been transmitted on one of the teleprinters. After remarking in one message that ‘there were Allied troops in the vicinity’  it  suddenly  ended  with  the  words  ‘My  God,  they  are  here  now’.12     According  to Whitaker, it looked as if the Americans had appeared so suddenly at the installation that the Germans had fled before having a chance to destroy their equipment.

Major Tester had been at the forefront of the Bletchley effort to break Fish traffic in the Testery working closely with the Newmanry. Accompanied by two Americans, Major Eldridge and Captain Forminiak, he left Whitaker and the rest of his team at Augsburg, and they had gone to a town called Pfunds, southwest of Innsbruck, almost on the Swiss border, where the German 19th Army was waiting to be disarmed and complete the formalities of surrender. There they were shown into the communications centre where they finally found a Geheimschreiber in perfect working order. One can almost imagine the feeling of elation. The next day, the team set up an interrogation centre in Kaufbeuren at the Rathaus (town hall), one of the tasks being to get descriptions of the senior German officers who had left. They then moved on the next day to Berchtesgaden and there they had the extraordinary experience of actually being able to see the ruins of Hitler’s Berghof, his notorious mountain retreat, from their billet, only a few days of the unconditional surrender. Oscar Oeser, who had briefly left the team at Kaufbeuren returned and rejoined them. They were able to find time to pay a visit to what remained of the Berghof and also to visit the Reichkanzle, the official office of the chancellor of Germany on the outskirts of town.

12 Thomas Parrish, The American Codebreakers, p. 279

The twenty-first of May was a day that Thomas Parrish in his book describes as having ‘something of the quality of the moment in 1922 when Howard Carter first broke through into Tutankhamen’s tomb’. A party from TICOM Team 1, including Lieutenant Commander Campaigne, Major Rushworth and Captain Carter were, at the POW camp at Bad Aibling searching for German SIGINT personnel. They had received a tip that one German prisoner in particular, (later to be identified as Unteroffizier Dietrich Suschowk), knew about ‘certain signals intelligence equipment and documentation to do with the interception and decoding of Russian traffic’ and wanted to talk to someone who ‘knew about these things’. Could this be what they were looking for? They found Suschowk amongst the POWs and he explained to the TICOM team that he worked for General der Nachrichtenaufklarung (GdNA) Gruppe VI, a platoon-size unit which until recently had been responsible for intercepting high-level Soviet radio teleprinter traffic and that the last Gruppe VI task had been intercepting Russian traffic at the Pionier-Kaserne, a barracks at Rosenheim in Bavaria. Interviewing him further they established that there had been an independent unit OKH/GdNA making Gteletype transmissions which throughout 1942–44 had operated at Lötzen in East Prussia under Horchleitstelle Ost, the central cryptanalysis and evaluation centre for Russian traffic. He explained that he and his colleagues wanted to collaborate with the Allies as much as possible and to continue the attack on Russian signals traffic and to this end, they were willing to show the team where they had buried the equipment and to help re-assemble and demonstrate its capabilities. The team was astounded. It was almost unbelievable; if true, an extraordinary opportunity exceeding all expectations. The team had absolutely no idea of what they might be led to and find and its capabilities but fortunately they followed it up. With the help of even more information from Suschowk, they rounded up the remaining members of Gruppe VI who were still in the Camp and the TICOM team took them back to Rosenheim to see if they could recover the booty as promised. The German POWs had got it right when they thought that they had something worthwhile to sell. There it was, safely buried under the cobbles of the courtyard. The prisoners got to work quickly the following morning, digging up the cobblestones which revealed a veritable treasure trove of packing cases. They recovered enough equipment to fill a dozen large chests, 53 smaller chests and another 53 boxes totalling about 7½ tons. Suschowk (who seemed to be taking the lead) and his unit then volunteered to put one of the machines together and to demonstrate that it was still in good working order. The next morning, the team found on their return that the work under the young but dynamic sergeant was already well advanced with one of the sets already up and running and receiving traffic. Whitaker, who arrived a short time later was amazed: ‘they were working like beavers before ever we arrived . . . They had one of the machines set up and receiving traffic when we got there’.13

In addition to the equipment that had been unearthed and the help from the intercept operators a tremendous amount had been gained from interrogations that they carried out. It came as a great surprise to the interrogators that the Germans, even at that low level, had known as early as the 1940s that the Enigma that they were using was not secure but to quote Howard Campaigne, ‘they had concluded that it would take a whole building full of equipment to do it’.14   This was an astounding discovery.

13 Bamford p. 14.

Lieutenant Commander Howard Campaigne, the senior American naval intelligence officer of Team 1, had returned to England in early June, but within two weeks, was sent back in the field as the offciicer-in-chargeOIC of a small, newly formed TICOM Team 4. Joining him this time were Lieutenant Evelyn Talbot-Ponsonby of the Royal Navy, and American naval officer Lieutenant Christopher Huntington, with Corporal A.G. Able, Royal Signals, responsible for communications. Captain M.A.G. Howgate of the Intelligence Corps who normally worked in Hut 6 Block (d) and block C working on TA/Sixta joined them later.15

The main purpose of the trip was to return to southern Germany to double-check on a number of targets the Team 1 search had initially passed over quickly. This team, TICOM 4, joined up with a troop from 30 A.U and accompanied them on a search for large number of miscellaneous naval targets in Bavaria; the most interesting included a variety of sites working on V-2 components.16   Often, tips from local intelligence officers led to dead ends. As Campaigne later explained:

…we heard there was a research establishment up in the Tyrolean Mountains on a lake way up there … There was … a guard, a US guard at the door… And so we went up to the guard and identified ourselves and said, ‘What went on here?’ … apparently, it had to do with seaplanes, because they had been running experiments with pontoons … but [there was] nothing there that was … cryptanalytic.

Talbot-Ponsonby had another bizarre experience when he accompanied 30 A.U. to the Island of Mainau in Lake Constance to follow up a tip about a supposed experimental station evacuated from Peenemünde. At the gate to the compound, they were refused admittance because the island was neutral territory, the property of Prince Bernadotte of Sweden, a neutral country, despite the fact that the French were currently using it as a displaced persons centre. Further inquiries with the chief medical officer brought forth the claim that two unidentified British intelligence officers had already visited the island. The team sent back to Constance to get passes, but found that all official offices in the town were closed. On asking why they were told that ‘it was in honour of a visit by the Sultan of Morocco’. This incident serves to illustrate the confused situation, poor communications and conflicting interests that were to plague TICOM throughout its searches. Sadly, most of the targets investigated by the 30 A.U. team were unproductive from a Sigint viewpoint, having been thoroughly picked over previously by other Allied Intel teams.

Campaigne and his men finally arrived at the Schliersee, a beauty spot in the Bavarian pre-Alps, following up on a tip received on 26 June. There they met a Hauptmann Kunz, a former Vienna police officer, who was by then affiliated to the Freiheitsaktion Bayern (F.A.B.), an anti-Nazi militia group set up in the last days of the war by those keen to surrender and now very eager to ingratiate itself with the Allied military government. He led them on a careful search of various buildings in the town, including three hospitals, the railway station, the school and adjacent book depository, the post office and telephone exchange, a hotel, and the site of a nearby landslide on the railway. Except for a number of abandoned teleprinters and telephone sets, they found no other items of Sigint interest. However, they heard an interesting rumour from more than one source. Campaigne later recounted the story: ‘We were told that on May 1st or 2nd, there was a train that came into the town and parked on a siding on the far side of the lake, across the lake from town, and had stood there for a day or so. And there were some soldiers around it and they (the informants) thought that they had unloaded the stuff and threw it in the lake. Well, we did a little searching. The lake’s kind of deep and we couldn’t do anything. But we recommended that it should be dragged’.

14 James Bamford, Body of Secrets, Doubleday 1998 p. 17.

15 Nicknamed ‘Milky’ he was a keen member of the B.P. Drama Group, starring amongst several productions in J.B. Priestley’s play They Came to a City.

16 In September 1942, the Director of Naval Intelligence authorised the formation of the Special Intelligence Unit, comprising 33 (Royal Marines) Troop, 34 (Army) Troop, 35 (Royal Air Force) Troop and 36 (Royal Navy) Troop. The Special Intelligence Unit was later renamed 30 RN Commando (Special Engineering Unit), and was redesignated 30 Assault Unit in December 1943. One of the key figures involved in the unit’s organisation was Ian Fleming (later author of the James Bond novels). They were tasked to move ahead of advancing Allied forces, or to undertake covert infiLieutenantrations into enemy territory by land, sea or air, to capture much-needed intelligence in the form of codes, documents, equipment or enemy personnel. They often worked closely with the Intelligence Corps’ field security sections.

The next day Kunz led the team up the mountain to search the surrounding countryside. Some debris from the German Army was found in some of the local farms, but apart from this nothing unusual or important. They also visited Himmler’s hunting lodge and followed up on yet another rumour about a German Army radio station that had been active in the area but, again, found nothing. On the 28th, while getting the unit’s radio repaired at a nearby US Army artillery unit, Captain Howgate was told by the unit signals officer of a large chest of wireless equipment that had been found in a canyon above the municipality of Bayrischzell. The sergeant in charge of the original search party led them to a few remaining boxes further up the ravine, but that they contained only food. After a couple of fruitless hours trying to track down the original source of the information who turned out to be the local bathing pool attendant, they abandoned the search. Nor did they find any trace of the mysterious Dr Schädel whose name had repeatedly come up during interrogations.17

In the final report of the Schliersee search, Campaigne concluded that the OKW/Chi archives might have been either dumped into the lake from the railway tracks near the landslide, buried up in the mountains or evacuated further to the south.

Before the TICOM teams began their investigations in Germany it was known that the Supreme Command of the German Armed Forces (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, abbreviated OKW) contained a Signal Intelligence section OKW/Chi). Before TICOM, knowledge of the activities of OKW/Chi was very limited, but it was assumed that, as the highest echelon signal intelligence service, it would coordinate and perhaps direct the signal intelligence work of the army, navy and air force and would probably assemble the ablest cryptanalysts for attacks on systems with which the signal intelligence services of the separate branches were unable to cope. Consequently OKW/Chi was given first priority among the TICOM targets. By the time the TICOM teams began operations, OKW/Chi had left Berlin and had separated, as was learned later, into a northern and southern group. Shortly afterwards most of their documents had been disposed of and most of the personnel had been swallowed up by one or another of the large prison camps hastily set up to receive the defeated German armed forces. From there, they were released into civilian life, often without leaving a trace in the records. TICOM Team 5 was an ad hoc team quickly formed to exploit the discovery of the missing archives of OKW/Chi.

But for a stroke of luck these archives might have remained lost for ever. In the last week of July at Lake Schliersee, a soldier from the 3rd US Army drowned. While dragging for the  body, rescuers snagged a box from the north end of the lake. Upon inspection, it turned out to be a waterproof box containing a number of translations of decoded messages and a file of correspondence addressed to OKW/Chi. On learning of this, TICOM, having already acted on Campaigne’s request for a dive team for the Schliersee, paired the recently returned Lieutenant Talbot-Ponsonby (who worked in the Naval Section in Hut 4) with US Army Lieutenant Alfred P. Fehl (a traffic analysis specialist who worked in Block D and Block G TA/SIXTA and Hut 3 at Bletchley Park) and quickly dispatched them as Team 5. Stopping in Paris for the usual round of clearances and discussions, they then proceeded overland to the Schliersee, arriving on 8 August after reinforcing the team with Captain Richard Farricker from Signal Security Detachment D and 1st Lieutenant Gene Silber, a SIGINT officer from the 3rd Army.

17 SSgt Dr Schädel was head of the archives of OKW/Chi.V where copies of the broken and translated messages and of the broadcast reports were filed and presumably indexed, and so was potentially a valuable source of information

Starting at the north end of the lake near the Schloss Freudenberg where the box was recovered, the team did an initial survey, finding the beach still littered with abandoned radios and teleprinters. Talbot-Ponsonby and Fehl then attempted to drag the lake near the landslide on the west side of the lake snagging an object several times, but it was too heavy to recover. While this was ongoing, a further inquiry launched into the whereabouts of Dr Schädel by the local Counterintelligence Corps detachment produced no results.

The next day the team, with the assistance of some engineers, took soundings and discovered that the depths in the target areas ranged from 20 to 50 feet. A more detailed survey by a navy diving officer resulted in confirmation that the job was within the capabilities of the US Army pier divers who would have to be brought in from Le Havre.

On 17 August, Talbot-Ponsonby returned to the UK leaving Fehl in charge of the operation. A week later, a small party of army engineers arrived with pontoons and began building a raft for use in the diving operations. The leading group of the 1051st Construction and Repair Group, the pier divers, began to arrive on 2 September, with the rest of their party arriving with equipment a week later. Diving operations began on Tuesday 11 September and lasted  a week. The first area worked was the site of the recovery of the original box, and although the murky water complicated diving operations, the site yielded 28 boxes, most found below the slope at 30 to 50 feet. It appeared that the materials had been hastily dumped from a boat. The second area explored near the landslide, revealed seven boxes of discarded equipment from the local German SS artillery school, but produced no signal intelligence material.

The recovered boxes were transported to the 3rd Army Signals Intelligence Battalion at Camp Goulette where they were stored in a vault. There they were sorted under the supervision of the TICOM team, non-relevant equipment was discarded and the remainder, reboxed, and sealed for transport. This resulted in 19 boxes, totalling 188 cubic feet and weighing 8162 pounds. No attempt was made to dry out the documents, instead TICOM wanted the materials moved to England as quickly as possible. Fehl arranged for an airlift, and on Friday 5 October, two C-47s landed at Biggin Hill where trucks met them to carry the cargo to Bletchley Park. The search for the OKW/Chi archives was complete.

TICOM Team 6, formed in February 1945, was a joint team dedicated to the capture and investigation of German naval Sigint targets; in particular, the German Naval Intelligence Centre – thought at that time to be at Lanke – and the German Sigint headquarters believed to be at Eberswalde, both in the Berlin area. However, the Soviet offensive that month had driven these units north-west into Schleswig–Holstein, closer to the naval bases around Kiel and Dönitz’s headquarters in Flensburg where he would finally set up his Government after Hitler’s suicide. After crossing the Rhine, this area became under the control of 21st Army Group, which allowed TICOM unlimited access to these suspected Sigint sites. As a result, despite being known as TICOM 6 it was in fact the first TICOM team to be sent out.

The team was under the command of Commander A.M.S. Mackenzie, RNVR who was  head of Naval Section IV Research at GC&CS, having joined B.P. in June 1940 and worked in Hut 4 and Block B with Lieutenant John Nuelsen, USNR as his executive officer supported by two British and two American junior naval officers. The team, activated on 15 April, was sent to Holland to link up with 30 AU, then headquartered at Venlo. For the next two months, they followed (and sometimes led) the army into northern Germany, capturing a number of important naval intelligence targets including the German Naval Y (intercept) station at Neumunster and the top secret Kurier station at Bokel, which had transmitted burst- encrypted messages to U-boats. The capture of Flusslauf, a new German cipher that was due to go into force on 5 May and which would have threatened the ability of GC & CS to read Ultra during the final critical days of the war, was potentially extremely important. They were also involved in the capture of OKM 4/SKL III (the B-Dienst), the Kriegsmarine Sigint organisation which had been evacuated to the Naval Signal School at Flensburg. This was one of the two German Sigint organisations (the other being the Foreign Office, mentioned earlier) that were captured intact.

By 3 May, when the German collapse appeared to be imminent, TICOM decided to expand Team 6 responsibilities to cover additional military targets, including OKW/Chi. Four additional army officers, two British and two Americans, Major Morrison18   and Lieutenants Laptook, Kirby and WO II Morgan19, arrived in Venlo two days later. TICOM were about to have a little bit of luck since, discovered accompanying the German surrender party to SHAEF Headquarters in Reims on 6 May, was Lieutenant Colonel Metting, the second in command of OKW/Chi. Also taken into custody at the same time was the OKW/Chi chief of the mathematical cryptanalyst section, Dr Erich Hüttenhain, along with his assistant Dr Walther Fricke. These were two of the most sought-after prizes. When Team 6 as a whole arrived in Flensburg on 19 May, Morrison and Kirby made contact with Colonel Hugo Kettler who had been chief of OKW/Chi since the summer of 1943. These prisoners provided a fount of information to TICOM. However, one key official was missing from the haul. William Fenner, the Chief Cryptanalyst and a founding member of OKW/Chi, was not with the Flensburg group, but, rather, it was discovered, had led an OKW/s operational group to the South.

Most of the leadership of OKW/Chi had been captured at Flensburg and interrogated by TICOM team 6. Colonel Hugo Kettler had ‘impressed his interrogators as an alert, intelligent officer’ who was willing to cooperate. However, unfortunately Kettler was primarily an administrator who had little knowledge of the technical aspects of his command’s cryptologic activities. Nevertheless, he gave TICOM the tip that the archives of OKW/Chi had been evacuated to the Schliersee, a mountainous lake south of Munich which was later to be found to be correct. Lieutenant Colonel Metting was a regular signals officer who had worked his way up to hold a number of important posts in command of intercept and cryptologic units. From November 1941 to June 1943, he had commanded the army’s cryptologic centre, Inspectorate 7/VI. He then commanded a signal battalion on the eastern front for a few months until assigned as the second in command at OKW/Chi in December 1943. Metting, although primarily an administrator, was well positioned to explain OKW/Chi’s charter, organisation, personnel strengths, chain of command and liaison with other agencies. His knowledge appeared to be more extensive than Kettler’s and he was valued enough to be later transported to England for more in-depth interrogation. Specialist Dr Erich Hüttenhain was a mathematician hired by OKW/Chi in 1937 to build up a research section that investigated the most difficult enemy systems that were beyond the capacity of the regular cryptanalysis section, and to investigate the security of the German’s own systems. As a working cryptanalyst, he provided detailed technical knowledge of the work of OKW/Chi, and at this point provided the most useful information for the TICOM investigators. He and his assistant Dr Walther Fricke were considered such high-value prisoners that they too were evacuated to England on 30 June. After the war Hüttenhain went to work in the US assisting in the building of cryptologic machines and compiling reports on the successes of German cryptanalysts. In 1947 he returned to Germany and became the chief of cryptanalysis for the Gehlen (Spy) Organisation.

18 Major Eric K Morrison of the Intelligence Corps. B.P. from 1941 to 45. Worked in Hut 3, Block D (6), Block G, Special Liaison Party and later SIXTA. Involved in traffic analysis, he specialised in the development of diagrams identifying German Morse networks

19 WO II Donald Cecil Morgan served at B.P. from October 1943 to 1945 in Block A and Block B naval section and went on to work on Japanese JN11 naval auxiliary code.

In the second week of March 1945, US forces advancing in Saxony bypassed the small village of Burgscheidungen. Troops from the 102nd Cavalry Regt were sent to provide protection to the village and its castle. A few days later, on March 18th 2nd Lieutenant Alfred Fenn of the First Army military government detachment made contact with the owner of the local schloss, Graf von der Schulenberg and his interpreter Fräulein Friedrichs. Although they were somewhat evasive he was able to establish that a section of the German Foreign Office was located there. Returning three days later for a second visit, he learned from Fräulein Friedrichs that the unit was in fact the cryptologic bureau of the Foreign Office, known as Per Z.S. TICOM were notified and Team 2 was formed and despatched arriving in the area by the middle of April.

Neff told the story of how advancing US troops had ‘run across these people, Germans, in this castle . . . [who] had been in the cryptographic business, signals intelligence, all of them. Bongo. Quickly Bletchley sent me. Within a few days, Neff was at the castle in the German state of Saxony. ‘The war was still going on and we were pretty far forward,’ Neff said. ‘We sorted the people out, interrogated, tried to find out what they were working on, where they had stood with it, tried to get our hands on all the papers that were left … But my problem became – what are we going to do with them? Because they apparently had a lot of good information . . . These Germans, as you might know, had been working on the Russia problem too.” Neff had stumbled into a gold mine, because not only had the codebreakers worked on Russian codes and ciphers, but the castle also contained a German Foreign Office signals intelligence archive. Neff’s dilemma was the location of the castle, which was located in territory assigned to the Soviets and Russian troops were quickly moving into the area. He needed to get the people and codebreaking materials out fast.

Neff contacted Colonel George Bicher, in charge of the American TICOM unit in London, and suggested shipping the documents together with the German codebreakers to England. But the issue of transporting the prisoners across the English Channel became very sensitive. They were civilian, not military personnel, ‘Apparently they had a hard time when this thing hit London because they couldn’t decide what to do. They had to clear it [up to] the Attorney General or whatever he’s called over there. Is it legal to do?’ Eventually the British agreed to have the Germans secretly transferred to England. ‘We got a plane one day,’ said Neff, ‘escorted this crowd down to the airfield, put them on the plane, and flew them over to London. The British picked them up over there and gave them a place to stay, fed them, and interrogated the hell out of them. Now, what happened to those TICOM records I don’t know.’ (The public still do not know).

It was the oldest, but smallest of the German services, employing by 1945 180–200 personnel. Pers ZS traces its roots back to the Political Intelligence Bureau of the Foreign Office of the immediate post-WWI period. A handful of its 1919 employees were still on the rolls of the agency in 1945; thus Pers ZS, although small in number, was highly experienced. Pers ZS was the cryptanalysts branch of the Pers Z section, which also included cryptographic, communications, and administration sections. Their principal effort was the cryptanalysts of foreign diplomatic codes and ciphers, attacking the diplomatic systems of approximately 50 countries and despite its small size was able to read substantial segments of the medium-grade systems of a number of Major powers including England, the United States, France, Italy, China and Japan. According to TICOM, Pers ZS ‘evidenced an extraordinary degree of competence’. Per Z.S became one of the few organisations to be captured with documents, personnel and equipment intact.

The team, under the command of Lieutenant Colonels Evans and Neff began their work of interviewing the prisoners and cataloguing the documents in the field. Initial field interrogations of Per Z S personnel revealed considerable information on the organisational structure and names and titles of many members. They also revealed a number of personality conflicts within the group, particularly disagreements on how far to cooperate. TICOM was very careful in the handling of its prisoners, ensuring that they were well treated and keeping them separated from other Nazi POWs to avoid them being influenced their attitudes. In addition to personnel, TICOM discovered a large number of documents stored in filing cabinets recovering many Hollerith machines. Some of the German personnel had already scattered and Evans and Captain Adams on 28 April chased down Senior Per S Z cryptanalysts Dr Adolf Paschke and Dr Werner Kunze as they were being transported to a First Army POW cage. Trips to Zschepplin and Mühlhausen yielded a handful of other personnel, and plans were soon made to evacuate the key members to England by air. Bad weather and political issues delayed the trip, and TICOM was concerned that the slow progress would discourage the Germans’ cooperative attitude and lower their morale. Later, Neff commented that ‘the most difficult part of the mission had been getting diplomatic permission from the British to evacuate the German personnel to England for interrogation’. Reading Neff’s interviews it is soon apparent that he was not exactly pro-British.

Burgscheidungen was located in the ‘soon to be occupied’ Soviet zone and so the decision was made to evacuate all the Per S Z civilians to Marburg in the American area, including the families of those who were to be evacuated to England. This took place on 11 May, the troops guarding Burgscheidungen were relieved and Team 3 returned to Paris. Two days later, Russian troops overtook that area. What might have happened to these German POW’s and their families on their arrival in England is something that is still not clear.

In the meantime, the activity at Steeple Claydon was beginning to attract attention. The Post office delivered a complaint that there was interference with local reception of the BBC. In addition, the amount of equipment the group was powering was exceeding the local 15 amps limit, causing brownouts in the local area. It was soon decided that, for both technical and security reasons, the operation had to be moved to a more permanent location.

Lieutenant Commander Howard Campaigne, the senior American naval intelligence officer of Team 1, returned to England in early June, but within two weeks, was sent back to the field as the OIC of a small, newly formed TICOM Team 4. Joining him were Lieutenant Evelyn Talbot-Ponsonby of the Royal Navy, and American naval officer Lieutenant Christopher Huntington, with Corporal A.G. Able, Royal Signals, responsible for their communications. Captain M.A.G. Howgate, of the Intelligence Corps joined them, later.

The main purpose of this trip was to return to southern Germany to double check on a number of targets the Team 1 search had passed over quickly. This Team TICOM 4, joined  up with a troop of 30 A.U. and accompanied them on a search for large number of miscellaneous naval targets in Bavaria; the most interesting included a variety of sites working on V-2 components. Often, tips from local intelligence officers led to dead ends. As Campaigne later explained:

… we heard there was a research establishment up in the Tyrolean Mountains on a lake way up there … There was … a guard, a US guard at the door… And so we went up to the guard and identified ourselves and said, ‘What went on here?’ … apparently, it had to do with seaplanes, because they had been running experiments with pontoons … but (there was) nothing there that was … cryptanalytic.

The main purpose of this trip was to return to southern Germany to double check on a number of targets the Team 1 search had passed over quickly. This Team TICOM 4, joined  up with a troop of 30 A.U. and accompanied them on a search for large number of miscellaneous naval targets in Bavaria; the most interesting included a variety of sites working on V-2 components. Often, tips from local intelligence officers led to dead ends.

OKW/Chi began to disintegrate at the end of the war. Most sections had moved out of Berlin by March 1945, some to the Army Signal School at Halle, while the agency’s archives moved to Lauf. By April, most of the agency’s personnel apart from those the agency who had gone north to join the remnants of the German government near Flensburg began to move towards south Germany, breaking up into different transport trains, with most of them ultimately ending up at Werfen, near Salzburg, where they would later be captured by American troops.

Whilst Kettler, Metting and Hüttenhain went north, Wilhelm Fenner, the Chief Cryptanalyst, led the remnants of OKW/Chi into Austria. On 23 April 1945, OKW/Chi was officially dissolved and its personnel were incorporated into the southern branch of the Army’s GdNA. In anticipation of the arrival of the American Army, all the remaining materials were burnt or thrown into a river. After the surrender on 8 May, all the personnel left were released. The Germans officially discharged Fenner from government service on 19 June with only a letter of recommendation. He then made his way back to Landshut, Bavaria, later finding a job as an car and bicycle mechanic in nearby Straubing. He lived quietly there until being picked up by the occupation authorities and held as a witness for the Nuremberg trials in July of 1946. From September to December he was interrogated, while being held at Haus Alaska, a building on the grounds of the 7707th European Command Intelligence Center at Oberusel. Reports based upon his information continued to be issued by the ASA (precursor of NSA) until as late as 1950.

There was little left for the TICOM teams to achieve. They had, without doubt, exceeded the wildest of expectations. And the members? They had seen the enemy at first-hand and the appalling results of losing a war and of unconditional surrender. Were they ever able to tell anyone that they had been in France, Germany and Holland and what they had done? Or did they have to put the month that they had spent virtually on the front line behind them and return to civilian life; for many the world of knitted cardigans, the pipe and a glass of sherry in the common room or dinner at high table or in the SCR? Were they able to tell their families of their extraordinary adventures?

As far as Bletchley was concerned there were no more intercepts to be decrypted and translated from German although there were still those involved in the fight against Japan which would go on for a further three months. For the others, some would stay on to write the official histories of their huts whilst others made their way back to their various colleges and to their various occupations in the post-war world, having taken part in one of the most significant episodes of the entire war, yet unable to say anything to anyone about their activities until 1974 and the publication of the first officially approved account of Ultra by Winterbotham. Presumably there were others, not in the TICOM teams who would still have been around to handle the output from the Russian Fish set-up, moving, in due course, from Bletchley to charmless Eastcote.

There were however several other issues that are still unclear. Firstly, where did the Russian codebreaking machines go to when they first arrived in England, and was it Steeple Gaydon? When they moved where did they go to and for how long did they operate? And finally, what happened to the possibly several hundreds of German prisoner operators who came to the UK with the equipment back in June 1945, brought to England both to avoid their falling in to Russian hands and to use their undoubted skills? Following the TICOM affair trying to establish what actually happened is difficult. Often what we are told is not corroborated by any other source. According to Aldrich the German unit was later employed ‘intercepting  Soviet  enciphered  teleprinter  traffic  which  the  British  code-named  ‘Caviar’.20 Did they stay on to help break the main Soviet military ciphers known as the Poet’s Series? He also tells us of a team of GCHQ cryptanalysts led by Major Gerry Morgan, working with an American naval team decrypting another Soviet system called Longfellow.

According to the author Mike Smith who served in the Intelligence Corps and worked at GCHQ, ASA succeeded in cracking the main Russian machine ciphers, (presumably as a result of the TICOM effort, possibly a slight variation on the truth).21   He describes how this, one of the most precious secrets of the early Cold War was betrayed to the Soviet Union by an American traitor. On 29 October 1948, later known as Black Friday, Warsaw Pact codes, ciphers, and communications procedures were changed. The secret had been handed to the Soviets by the US traitor William W. Weisband, their agent in the ASA.

Under the UK/USA agreement B.P. had already agreed to work with the Americans on Soviet codes and ciphers. By September 1946, they were sending the Americans material produced from this Russian-enciphered teleprinter system they had codenamed Caviar. According to Smith their best successes came after a move from Bletchley Park to Eastcote, Middlesex, when they broke main Soviet military machine ciphers known as the Poets Series.

This followed GCHQ’s breaking of the first Poet system in early 1946. Called Coleridge, it was used by the Soviet army, navy and air force on main communications networks in the USSR. Coleridge gave the Western allies an insight into Soviet military strength, capability and dispositions. The information was second only to Soviet atomic secrets on the British intelligence wish list.

20 Ibid.

21 Michael Smith, The Spying Game, Politicos, 2003 p. 505.

When was TICOM finally finished? Are there any former German prisoners, military or civilian (now well in their nineties), seeing out their days in some Buckinghamshire village, never having returned to Germany? Some of the duplicated equipment was certainly shipped to the USA where it was undoubtedly copied and used. Did any of them follow it?

Bamfordtells of Vint Hill Farm Station and of a battalion of solely Afro-Americans used to file and handle the incredible number of Fish decrypts, (an extraordinary story in its own right).22    The work certainly did not come to a halt. Figures of over one million intercepts a month have been quoted. This activity was believed to have continued until 1956 when Russian Fish traffic was said to have finally dried up.

The results obtained by these TICOM teams had been impressive, bearing in mind that most of them were in the services just for the duration, most not professionals in either military or intelligence worlds. Approximately 4,000 separate German documents were captured; the material weighing five tons. Many cryptographic devices and machines were captured and 196 reports based on the interrogation of German Sigint personnel, together with other miscellaneous reports and translations were issued by TICOM. The importance and value of TICOM cannot be measured only in such statistics. Its true value lay in what was revealed to UK/US cryptologists about German Sigint – particularly relating to the British and American systems and, what has yet to be revealed, their successes with Soviet codes and ciphers.

The POW interrogations carried out by the TICOM teams and the captured documents together with the interrogations carried out by CSDIC (Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre) gave the UK and US investigators a reasonably complete picture of German signals intelligence. The US Army Security Agency, in particular, obtained a lot of information from the documents and interrogations that was useful in assessing its own cryptanalytic and cryptographic achievements especially their own development of rapid analytic machinery and the state of its research in cryptography and, not least, the state of its research in cryptography and the cryptographic security of US systems.

The discovery of the Russian codebreaking machine and its operation for many years post- war was probably, some say almost certainly, the principal reason why both the NSA and GCHQ drew a curtain around some of the TICOM operations. In 1992 the NSA director of the National Security Agency extended the secrecy order until 2012, making TICOM probably the last great secret of the Second World War and one of the first secrets of the Cold War. GCHQ seemed to have made no comment publicly on this.

About 14 years ago, Louis Kruh, a passionate amateur cryptographer and one-time editor of Cryptologia, published an illustrated article entitled ‘From Bletchley Park to Berchtesgaden’ with the assistance of Paul K. Whitaker – the much-quoted member of the TICOM team, which appeared in Cryptologia July 1987 (Vol. XI, No. 3, 129-141) and described  one  of  the  most  important  findings  the  team  had  made.23      The  article  was illustrated with what were said to be photographs, presumably perhaps illicit, that Whitaker had taken on the mission including some of the German equipment alleged to have been used to intercept and decrypt the high-level Russian system. Three years later the photographs were again reproduced in The American Codebreakers.24. These are the clearest evidence to date that such a machine existed. We have to wait until the embargo by NSA/GCHQ is lifted to find out if they are genuinely the Russian Fish. Although blurred, they nevertheless look very convincing and German soldiers are clearly seen. If they were indeed genuine this is evidence that the equipment did exist although there can be no doubt of  this. Once the Germans mastered the interception technique and built the Fish machine it must have provided them with enormous amounts of traffic much of it sensitive.

22 Ibid.

23 Cryptologia, July 1987, No. 3 pp. 129–141

24 Thomas Parrish, The American Codebreakers. (published in hardback as The Ultra Americans)

Apparently, through the Russian Fish intercepts the Anglo–Americans were able to get millions of messages each month, most of which were in plaintext and of no great importance. Nevertheless, when analysed all together they provided unprecedented intelligence on Soviet economic and military matters. The declassified NSA history On Watch Profiles from the National Security Agency Past 40 years p.15 presents the radio-teletype plain-text programme in nothing less than triumphant terms ‘leading to an encyclopaedic knowledge of what was going on in the Soviet Union. Over 95% of what the United States knew about Soviet weaponry in the 1940s came from the analysis of plaintext radioprinter traffic’.

The Russian Fish story was undoubtedly a great Intelligence success but, in the main, it had nothing to do with codebreaking as the bulk of the messages were plain text and the system was handed to them on a plate. This leads to the 1950s controversies and the role of Sigint. If the ASA(NSA) did, as they claimed, have this ‘encyclopaedic knowledge of what was going on in the Soviet Union’ how can they then explain the acknowledged ‘bomber intelligence gap’25,  the  ‘missile  intelligence  gap’  and  the  Korean  Sigint  debacle,  all  of  which  have  been well documented? Should they have known that the Soviet Union did not have more bombers or nuclear missiles than the US?

The teams found that there were other German cipher machines and devices which were under development and some of which could so easily have completely devastated the allied cryptanalytical efforts against Germany. For example, an irregular-drive Enigma that would have defied all then known methods of solution, was being developed at the same time. This was called Cipher Device 39 (Schlüsselgerät 39, abbreviated SG-39). A mechanical, portable, keyboard-operated cipher machine, employing an interacting wheel-motion principle applied to Hagelin-type wheels, had been developed, built and partially distributed, which would have been completely secure against reconstruction even if messages were read in depth. This was called Cipher Device 41 (Schlüsselgerät 41, abbreviated SG-41). It was cryptographically superior to its much smaller US Army equivalent device, Converter M-209. A special device, the Enigma Uhr box had already been introduced in 1944 which replaced the steckering on the Wermacht Enigma plugboard and on which the settings could be changed by simply turning a knob (presumably from the name – every hour). Despite the extra security that this provided it was not introduced later leading to speculation that there was a flaw with it (which there was). At the time Anglo– American cryptanalytical services would not have been in a position to break these devices. Knowing the German’s often faulty or careless use of their cipher machines by their operators it might, occasionally have allowed Allied cryptanalysts to decipher the occasional isolated message, but on the whole, they probably would have been secure.

The story of the use of the A-3 scrambler by the Allies and the German successes with it is an interesting and salutary chapter in the history of communications security and intelligence. The A-3 was based on a 1920s concept but was still being used by the USA in

25 The missile gap was the term used in the United States for the perceived disparity between the number and power of the weapons in the USSR, and US ballistic missile arsenals during the Cold War This gap only existed in exaggerated estimates made by the Gaither Committee in 1957 and in USAF figures. Even the CIA figures that were much lower and gave the US a clear advantage were far above the actual count. Like the bomber gap of only a few years earlier, it was later demonstrated that the gaps were known to be illusory from the start, and were being used solely as a political tool.

1941 when they were not yet at war. Putting it very simply, voice messages were chopped up in small pieces and a substitution was made by inverting frequencies and the pieces were then scrambled. The military were fully aware that the equipment was not full secure but nevertheless it was widely used until the SIGSALY was introduced. The German Nazi Post office – Deutsche Reichspost, was the organisation responsible for telephone, telegraph and wireless communications in Germany. The Reichspostminister from 1937 to 1945 was Wilhelm Ohnesorge, a convinced National Socialist with close ties to Hitler. Ohnesorge was interested in the new radio technologies and was willing to fund research in decoding the A- 3 device. The unit that handled this operation was the Forschungsstelle der Reichspost (Research Department of the Reichspost). Once the initial decision was made to carry out the research, two factors made it relatively easy for the Post Office people. First was the fact that the Post Office already owned an A-3 device. How they came to know of the existence and then acquire this machine so early on is not known. The second factor was their gifted engineer Kurt Vetterlein who headed the effort to decode it. After researching the A-3’s operating procedure Vetterlein and his team were successful in building equipment that decoded the conversations in real time. The equipment and the team were moved to Noordwijk with its superb aerial system in occupied Holland where the reception was excellent. Telephone conversations were recorded and decoded from late 1941 till late 1944.The transcripts would be sent by teletype to the Sicherheitsdienst (security service of the SS) and were then forwarded to Hitler, Himmler, and other senior personalities of the Third Reich. The threat of British commando raids forced the German team to move inland to a more secure location close to Eindhoven and in 1944 because of the advancing Allied armies they returned to Germany.

Dr Hans Wilhelm Thost, a journalist and employee of the SD had a strange background. In

1935 he was the London correspondent of the Völkischer Beobachter, the newspaper of the National Socialist Party. In October of that year he was ordered to leave the country. The only reason for his expulsion seems to be that he may have taken part in some unlawful activity such as espionage. Whatever the background, he later became one of the people who was employed translating the incoming A-3 material and his interrogation (TICOM I-190

‚’’Extracts from report on interrogation of Dr Hans Wilhelm Thost’’) make very interesting reading. According to his testimony, the Post Office Minister Ohnesorge, although a dedicated Nazi, distrusted the military and did not want to give them the transcripts of the intercepted communications. That was the reason for the Reichspost-SD connection. On one occasion during his interrogations Thost surprised his interrogators by saying that ‘the address for Washington was Republic 2020’. Later in his interrogation he listed some of the more memorable calls that he could remember:

  1. Between War Office, London and British Army staff, Washington. Most of the time the caller was a Brigadier Leslie Dawes and, in London, Brigadier Owen Young. The discussions concerned British orders of American military equipment. Cover words were used for the items such as ‘grapefruits & ‘pineapples‘.
    1. Between the Ministry of War Transport, London and British Shipping Mission, Washington. Talks concerned the allocation of shipping space. Theatres of war were referred to by a cover name. (‘Arthur’s place’, ‘John’s place’). One can speculate that Arthur’s place may have been Singapore where the sadly notorious General Arthur Percival was in charge
    1. Ministry of War Transport, London and representative of the same organisation in Washington. Talks concerned the allocation of tanker shipping space. Thost said that

there was a serious shortage of tanker ships. This was also an indicator of  the success or otherwise of the U-boat campaign

  • As far as political and diplomatic matters were concerned, calls that he could recall included the British Embassy in Washington to the Foreign Office in London, The Dutch Government in exile in London to its representative in Washington, and on one or two occasions, the Soviet ambassador to London, Maisky to the Soviet ambassador in Washington. Also he recalled conversations between Anthony Eden (UK foreign secretary) in Washington and Churchill in London.
    • As far as economic matters were concerned, the most interesting calls were of course those between Roosevelt and Churchill – many of them relating to what the USA would supply under Lend Lease. Their conversation of 29 July 1943 alerted the Germans to the impending Italian surrender and allowed them to take swift measures against the Italian army. Other top-level people were also recorded including: General Mark Clark, Lord Halifax, the British ambassador to the USA, Averell Harriman, the Special Envoy to Europe and the co-ordinator of Lend Lease and who once accompanied Churchill to Moscow to visit Stalin, and Harry Hopkins the ‘eminence grise’ behind Roosevelt and now thought by several historians to have been a communist; if not, at least holding sympathetic views.

Walter Schellenberg, head of SD foreign intelligence was another recipient of the transcripts and in his memoirs he mentions one of the Roosevelt-Churchill transatlantic conversations. 26

The Post Office operation was undoubtedly a great success but it was not the only effort against the A-3 device. The army directed its own separate operation through the Army Ordnance, Development and Testing Group, Signal Branch Group IV – Waffenpruefung Abteilung 7/IV. Many of the books on codebreaking mention the Vetterlein Post office story. However, surprisingly that is only 50 per cent of the puzzle. When TICOM report I-213 was declassified by the NSA, it told of a German engineer named Muche who worked for the Army Ordnance, Development and Testing Group, Signal Branch Group IV Section E (Wa Pruef 7/IVe) headed by Dr Lötze, and his own successes against the A-3 scrambler. The agency was involved in what he described as ‘special tasks’ during the war. They analysed and decoded Soviet speech scramblers and they also built equipment that could intercept and print out Allied multi-channel radio-teletype traffic. Section E also did research in speech privacy systems. Muche was an engineer with Section E. From 1927 to 37 he worked for Heliowatt Werke and in 1937 moved to WaPruef 7/IVe. From then until 1940 he investigated domestic and foreign speech privacy systems. At the end of 1940 or the beginning of 1941 his department started studying the encrypted transatlantic telephone link. Under his direction, single sideband receivers were built and the traffic recorded at Nordwyk, Holland. Perhaps, surprisingly this was the same place as the Post Office had their interception facility. He got assistance from Professor Koomans of the Dutch PTT (Staatsbedrijf der Posterijen, Telegrafie en Telefonie) in building the receivers, surprisingly. From studying the recordings with specialised equipment the Section E party worked out the operating procedure of the A-3 from which, a descrambling machine known as 5B could be built. The equipment was moved from Nordwyk to Ludwigsfelde (near Berlin) in late 1942.  Ludwigsfelde  housed  a  large  army  intercept  station.  According  to  Muche  the  5B

26 Walter Schellenberg, The Labyrinth: The Memoirs of Hitler’s Spymaster, 1999.

machine became operational in the summer of 1943 and he too recalled the conversations between Roosevelt and Churchill which foreshadowed the Sicily landings and allowed the Germans to withdraw their forces with minimal losses. Unfortunately for the Germans the 5B machine was destroyed by aerial bombardment in late 1943. Muche then spent eight months building an improved version which was completed in the summer of 1944 and which intercepted and decoded the traffic till 1945 when the unit was forced to move. He had no idea as to what had happened to the machine at the end of the war. Fortunately information about the disposal of the 5B machine is given in TICOM I-203. Korne was also a former member of the Reichspost and confirmed that Mariniok’s statement. The X Gerät (not to be confused with Johannes Plendl’s navigation device of the same name) had been developed by Dr Lötze with the assistance of Muche and had enabled the Germans to intercept transatlantic telephone conversations. Asked about the history of the apparatus, he said that he had only been involved with it from its installation at Ludwigsfelde in August 1944. He had then gone on to work with it until April 1945 when it had been taken to the Schliersee, and he had himself been one of the group which accompanied it by truck. He claimed that he had also been on the raft when they had dropped the apparatus into the Schliersee on either 1 or 2 May 1945. Contrary to Mariniok’s statement, Korn claimed that the apparatus had been sunk in several sections and not in one piece. The frame, which consisted of three large parts, was dropped in sections and the compartments of the apparatus itself had been dropped separately. Korn was certain he could pick out the exact spot where the parts were sank, saying that the nearest village was Miesbach. Although he was certain that the construction of the apparatus would be obvious should the parts be retrieved, KORN thought that nothing would work because of the corrosive influence of the water. It appeared that Muche had been just as successful in his own way as Vetterlein but until then his story was not known. Although the army’s effort wasted resources by duplicating the Post Office operation, it was nevertheless successful in its own right and provided valuable information during the war.

It had been an invaluable source of intelligence. By eavesdropping on the Allied

conversations the Germans got military, diplomatic and economic intelligence. In at least one case (the Italian surrender) the information they received allowed them to take swift military action and pre-empt the Allied plans. That event alone, they felt justified the resources spent on the A-3 both by the Post Office and the army.

The intercepted communications between Roosevelt and Churchill and other senior figures are an embarrassing episode in the signals intelligence war. The potential for interception was well known. Whenever Churchill made a transatlantic call he had his own personal censor fully authorised to terminate the call instantly had she felt that there was a potential security problem, However the Allies knew the A-3 system was vulnerable but there was no alternative until the arrival of the SIGSALY machine which replaced it with a quantum leap in terms of security. Thanks to SIGSALY the Allies had absolute security from mid 1943 onwards. It was of massive construction consisting of 40 racks of equipment weighing over 50 tons and required 30KW of power. The team discovered that the Germans had recorded significant amounts of traffic from this system but had erroneously concluded that it was a complex encoding system. Still the story of the A-3 scrambler, and the German successful attack on it, is an interesting chapter in the history of communications security.

Germany had six main cryptologic organisations in World War II, some of them leftovers from earlier days. The estimated total strength including field units and support staff amounted to approximately 30,000 persons. As far as the other Axis powers were

concerned, Italy had two main Sigint organisations and Finland, Austria, Hungary each had one. From this it has been estimated that the total involved in the Axis effort probably amounted to some 37,000. This, however, was small in comparison with the Anglo– American effort. The grand total of personnel involved at the end of the war including all services and including field and overhead personnel was in excess of 60,000 and this does not include the not insignificant contributions made by the Commonwealth and Empire – particularly important when it came to the war in the Far East where India and Australia were to make a vital contribution.27

Of the six main German cryptologic organisations, four were military and two civilian. The military were:

  1. The signal intelligence agency of the Army High Command (OKH/GdNA) which dealt with enemy (Allied) army traffic
  2. The signal intelligence agency of the Navy High Command (OKH/4SK) which dealt with enemy naval traffic.
  3. The signal intelligence agency of the Air Force High Command (OKL/LN Abt 350 which dealt with enemy Air Force traffic.
  4. The signal intelligence agency of the Supreme Command Armed Forces (OKW/Chi) which dealt with enemy, neutral and friendly diplomatic traffic, commercial traffic and news broadcasting, particularly that of the BBC. At one time, it was thought that this could possibly have been the Nazi equivalent of GC & CS.

The two civilian organisations were:

  1. The Foreign Office cryptanalytic section (pers Z s) which also dealt with diplomatic traffic; friendly, neutral or enemy and:
  2. Goering’s Research Bureau (FA) which was a Nazi party agency dealing also with diplomatic traffic, news releases, broadcast monitoring, telephone monitoring and other types of communications intelligence whether friendly or neutral.

The Army High Command agency (Oberkommando des Heeres, General der Nachrichter Aufklärung) or OKH/GdNA was located at Jüterbog about 60 miles south west of Berlin. Its role included the cryptanalysis and evaluation of Allied army traffic at any level, whether strategic or operational. It also did a small amount of radio broadcast monitoring. By 1945 the agency was the main unit of the German Army Signal Intelligence Service.

There were other units:

  1. Two intercept stations operated directly under the Signals Intelligence Agency and supplying it with intercepts of Allied high-level traffic.
  2. Nine field signals intelligence regiments assigned to various army groups for the interception, traffic analysis, cryptanalysis and the evaluation of Allied low-level tactical traffic in the army group areas. These regiments were independent of the Central Signal Intelligence Agency but supplied it with intercepts.
  3. A small signal intelligence section assigned to the Army Commander-in-Chief West which acted as a co-ordinating section for the two Signal Intelligence Regiments on the Western Front.

It was estimated that a total of 12,000 personnel were employed in these units.


27 See Australia’s contribution to the TICOM Project.


It was reassuring that TICOM established that the Axis cryptanalysts had been unable to read any US Army or Navy High-level cryptographic systems. However both of the unenciphered UK War Office telegraph codes were easily read by the Germans. It was discovered that Hungary had received photostat copies of US War Department Confidential Code no. 2 probably from the Bulgarians together with at least one set of cipher tables and this compromised material was shared between Germany, Japan and Finland.

Military Intelligence Code no. 11 (Black Code) was used by the US Military Attaché, Colonel Fellers in Cairo for transmitting his reports. An Italian who had worked for more than 20 years for the American embassy obtained or copied a safe key which enabled the American Black Code and its encipherment tables to be copied by the Italian intelligence authorities. Fellers was somewhat of an Anglophobe and the British authorities did everything they could to please him and, as a result, he was particularly well briefed on the Desert campaign. It was not realised that the code had first been broken in November 1941 with the help of the stolen tables and the code book. Unfortunately his reports had been read throughout the summer of 1942 and the information passed on to Rommel (with dire results for the British in the Desert campaign). Fellers unwittingly gave Rommel just about the most perfect intelligence any General could wish for through his frequent reports to Washington. Rommel knew the source of this intelligence and believed it whereas Ritchie was getting intelligence derived from Ultra but, not knowing the source, did not put much trust in it. Moreover, Rommel’s radio intelligence company under Captain Alfred Seeböhm was doing pretty well due to poor British radio security. After his drive from Benghazi, Rommel needed time to reorganise before his next major offensive. From early February until May the two armies rested. Rommel was still getting the Fellers reports giving him a clear picture of Ritchie’s dispositions. His plan, however, to swing around the southern end of the British line had been revealed by Hut 6 Ultra and his movements observed. Despite this he was still able to surprise and overrun the HQ of 7th Armoured Div. part of Norrie’s 30 Corps. When Norrie heard that Rommel was attacking he ordered the 22nd Armoured Brigade to drive south to support the 4th Armoured Brigade not knowing that it had already been shattered. Before it could move Rommel was on them, In June 1942 the Americans put an end to the Fellers leak by changing the cipher system depriving Rommel of his primary source of intelligence. Hence his surprise at his reception by Auchinleck and the surprise attack on the Italian Sabratha Division. The Y service had located the position of Rommel’s radio intelligence outfit and recovered their records intact. These revealed the contribution made by Fellers and the success of Seebohm’s methods. They also discovered the importance of good German radio intelligence in the field and how poor was British radio security was. Widespread reforms in radio security were put in place with new companies formed to monitor British radio security.

The Germans had also been able to read messages in several versions of the US Division

Field codes. They had solved between 10 per cent and 30 per cent of intercepted US Army M-209 messages. Apart from the occasions where keys had been captured these messages were usually read too late to be of any tactical value to the enemy. The CSP-1500 (M209 in US Army nomenclature) was a portable hand-operated tape printing mechanical device designed for the encipherment of tactical messages, the cryptographic principle being reciprocal substitution alphabets. Derived from a machine created by Boris Hagelin in the late 1930s, Smith Corona eventually went on to build 125,000 at $64.00 each. Despite its

insecurity it was use throughout the Korean campaign. It was finally discontinued, after a number of modifications, in the early 1960s. It represented a brilliant achievement for pre- electronic technology. It was an extremely portable machine measuring 3.25×5.5 x7”.

It was particularly disconcerting for the Americans and the British to find that almost 100% of messages sent in some other codes – Slidex, Codex and cipher device M-94 had been  read on a regular basis. Slidex was a simple manual cipher system based on a matrix of fixed words and frequently used phrases that had been introduced into the British Army around 1943 and had been used heavily throughout Overlord in June 1944. It was simultaneously used by the Soviet forces. They found that had been easily broken by the Germans using nothing but the intercepted messages. It had never been suitable for anything other than short-term tactical messages.

Combined Naval Cipher no.3 which was used by the US Navy and the Royal Navy for Atlantic convoy operations was read almost 100 per cent by the Germans from the end of 1942 through to the middle of 1943. The solution of this cipher and its continuous use was, almost certainly, for the Allies the most disastrous signal intelligence success achieved by the Germans. Allied convoy shipping losses suffered during this period were six times as great as during any other comparable period. The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor throughout the war; as Churchill said ‘never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere on land, seas or in the air depended ultimately on its outcome’.

In addition to cryptography, the Germans had been involved in intensive and successful Traffic Analysis against both the UK and US Army and Air Forces radio communications. This included direction-finding, analysis of all call-sign and frequency allocation systems; analysis of plain text and operators chat as well as more complex operations such as airborne radar route tracking and the monitoring of transmitter zero beat tuning. The importance of T.A as a weapon in the intelligence war was appreciated by the Germans far earlier than by B.P..

The outcome of the work of TICOM was that it was agreed that, from an intelligence standpoint, the results obtained through the German cryptographic successes against the Allies had been important but not decisive. Both British and US Army and Navy strategy had been safe so long as high-level systems were employed. Tactical operations, however, did suffer. The Atlantic convoy losses during 1942 and early 1943 have already been mentioned (which could have led to our Britain’s defeat) and German traffic analysis and cryptanalysis had provided a comprehensive order of battle of the US Army and Army Air Force based in the UK, the Mediterranean and in due course, on the Continent. One interrogation brought about the astonishing statement that ‘no attack of the 8th US Air Force ever came as a surprise’. What was the cost of this in terms of aircraft and their crew? Undoubtedly the compromise by the military attaché in Cairo of Military Intelligence Code no. 11 had provided Rommel with intelligence of unquestioned tactical value in the spring of 1942. German successes in the solution of medium- and low-level British military and naval systems were considerable.

The results of the cryptanalytic effort against Russian military communications had not

been known previously and they were found to have been even greater than those against Britain and the USA. Cryptanalysis of the diplomatic communications of Italy, Japan, their Allies and France, Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland also achieved important results.


The list of successes by the Germans as listed by TICOM in its findings is impressive, in particular those of the German Army Signal Intelligence organisation which, from its initial formation until the end of the war included the following:

  1. Before the declaration of war in September 1939 it had been able to establish the French, Dutch and British orders of battle. This, in the main, had been achieved by cryptanalysis of French codes and Dutch double-transposition ciphers and through direction-finding and traffic analysis directed against British Army systems.
  2. During the invasion of France in 1940 it established the French mobile order of battle by the decryption of un-named French codes.
  3. It established the Russian army order of battle and the location of its strategic reserves from early in the war until 1945. This was, in the main, accomplished through traffic analysis and the cryptanalysis of Russian 2, 3, 4 and 5 figure codes of both the Army and the People’s Commissariat (NKVD).
  4. It gave Rommel intelligence of great operational value during the fighting around Tobruk. This was done by solving the super-encipherment of a compromised unidentified British code which the Germans called ‘The British War office’.
  5. Information was gained on operations undertaken by the US Army in North Africa and thereafter throughout the war through the solution of Converter M-209 traffic. During the fighting in Sicily, the Germans captured just two weeks after it went into effect, a key list valid for one month and were able to read the system completely for the rest of the month. On other nets, when sufficient depth was available, between 10 per cent and 30 per cent of M-209 traffic was readable though most of the traffic was read too late to be of any real tactical value.
  6. Information concerning US Amy activities in Iceland, Britain, Central America and North Africa was obtained by reading the US Army Division Field codes DFC 15, 16. 17, 21, 25, 28 and possibly others.
  7. Tactical information relating to Allied bombing and artillery targets, weather reports and intelligence on the size and location of Allied units passing through military police control points in France was obtained from solutions of Slidex the British device for protecting operationally low-level traffic. The device was used by both British and US forces and various versions of it were usually solved, in one to three hours.
  8. The transportation of German troops over Hungarian railways could be safely undertaken using the intelligence obtained.
  9. Successful cryptanalysis was carried out on the traffic of Jugoslav and Greek partisans, Czech and Russian agents and the Polish resistance movement.

The Signal Intelligence Agency of the Army High Command issued three daily reports and these were sent to the Army High Command, the Navy High Command, the Air Force High Command and to the Supreme Commander Armed Forces. Himmler, as Chief of the Elite Guard also received a copy as did the Reich Security Office.

Each of the nine signal intelligence regiments in the field supplied intelligence directly to the commanders at army group, army and corps levels and co-operated closely with the local air force signals regiments.

The German Air Force Signal Intelligence Services’ successes against the RAF and USAAF were outstanding. They supplied a comprehensive and continuous picture of the battle order and the deployment of USAAF and RAF units in the UK and Mediterranean theatres and, after the D-Day invasion, the continent of Europe. This information came mainly from traffic analysis, radio-telephone monitoring and monitoring of airborne radio devices. The solution of RAF 4-figure codes from March 1940 until November 1942 gave basic data which was enlarged upon and used until the end of the war. It gave prompt and accurate warning of RAF and USAAF heavy bomber missions. To a great degree this was the result of advanced methods of traffic analysis from radio-telephone and radar monitoring. It also gave immediate warning to German ground forces and fighter squadrons of tactical operations by Allied ground support aircraft.

As far as the Western Front was concerned, the solution of the bomber codes, Slidex, Syko and Rekoh used information by the RAF and, for a short time the USAAF, from cryptanalysis was vital throughout the war.

Their successes against the Russian Air Forces were even greater. The cryptanalysis of Russian Air Force ground-to-ground 2, 3, and 4 figure administrative and operational codes and some five figure codes provided a complete order of battle for the Russian Air Force from 1937 until the end of the war. A large amount of intelligence on Russian Army battle order was also obtained from their study of air networks.

From the partial decipherment of air to ground traffic, plane to ground radio telephone monitoring and from radio direction-finding of bombers when airborne, they had been able to give accurate warnings of all Russian long-range strategic bombing raids, from the cryptanalysis off all the Russian Air Army’s 2, 3, and 4-figure traffic. From traffic analysis, plane-to-plane radio telephone monitoring and from radio direction finding of planes in flight they were able to warn their ground forces and fighter squadrons of any impending operations by Russian fighters and fighter bombers.

The signals intelligence agency of the Navy High Command (OKM/4 SKL111) was responsible for traffic analysis, cryptanalysis and the evaluation of British, US, Russian, French, and Swedish naval traffic. It had a strength of about 1,000 personnel but also had operational control of an additional field organisation of approximately 2,500. It was made up of four detachments: Flanders, Brittany, Wilmershaven, and Pomerania which were engaged on cryptanalysis of low-level systems, interception and direction-finding. The complement of each detachment was 200 men including 100 intercept operators and 10 cryptanalysts.

There were eighteen primary direction-finding stations whose main duty was interception rather than direction-finding; each with a strength of 100 including 60 intercept operators and five cryptanalysts. There were twenty-five secondary direction-finding stations whose main duties were direction-finding and traffic analysis, each with a strength of 26.

Their main Naval successes were:

  1. In 1939 they were able to establish the wartime organisation and disposition of the British fleet, after having solved British Naval Code No.2. The B-Dienst, created in the early 1930s, had broken the most widely used British naval code by 1935. When war came in 1939, the B-Dienst specialists had broken enough British naval codes that the Germans knew the positions of all British warships. They had further successes in the early stages of the war; the British were slow to change their codes. The B-Dienst could regularly read the British and Allied Merchants Ships (BAMS) code, which proved valuable for U-boat warfare

in the early phases of the Battle of the Atlantic. In February 1942, the B-Dienst broke the code used for communication with many of the Atlantic convoys.[2]

Before the US entered the War at the end of 1941, the B-Dienst could also read several American codes. This changed after April 1942, when the US Navy changed code systems; before that, however, the ability to read American message traffic contributed to the success of Operation Paukenschlag the successful U-boat attacks off the American East Coast in early 1942.

In 1941, the US Navy refused, for security reasons, to equip the British Navy with their ECM Mark 1 encryption devices, so the British Admiralty introduced the Naval Cypher No. 3 for Allied radio communication and convoy co-ordination in the Atlantic.

  • In the spring of 1940 they obtained complete information on the proposed British and French joint Norway expedition Operation Stratford, the blocking action in central Norway intended to prevent any German advance and to protect the southern flank of Norway from German counter-attacks. This was done by solving British Naval Code No. 4. The German invasion followed immediately. During the campaign detailed information on potential Allied countermeasures was gained from the traffic sent in British Navy No 4, for example, intended British landing fields, transport arrival schedules and the disposition of British and French surface forces.
  • Throughout 1942 and part of 1943 it provided important intelligence relating to Atlantic convoys from a nearly 100 per cent solution of Combined Cipher No. 3 used by British and US North Atlantic convoys The B-Dienst had concentrated on deciphering the new code, and finally were successful in September 1942. From December 1942 to May 1943, 80 per cent of the intercepted radio messages were read. However, only 10 per cent of them were decrypted in time to take effective action. Despite this low success rate the average monthly Allied shipping losses during this period were approximately six times the average monthly losses in later periods. They also solved the British inter-departmental cipher, and in 1943 a British RAF torpedo bomber transposition cipher used for practice exercises in the Channel. They also carried out D/F’ing attacks against Allied naval and merchant ships, plotting their positions and movements, passing on this information to local commanders. Detachment Flanders based at Bruges, assisted in the escape of the pocket battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau when they made their dash from Brest to Kiel. This group also read British naval traffic prior to and during the Dieppe raid contributing to the disaster.

The Signal Intelligence Agency of the Supreme Command Armed Forces Oberkommando der Wermacht, Chiffrierabteilung abbreviated to OKW/Chi had three main functions:

  1. It intercepted, studied and evaluated diplomatic, military attaché and agent traffic.
  2. It monitored and evaluated commercial, radio traffic and news broadcasts.
  3. It made security studies of the codes and ciphers used by the Supreme Command, Armed Forces, the army, the air force and the navy and many government departments, vetoing from 1944 the use of those it deemed dangerous and insecure.

OKW/Chi operated at least 13 radio intercept stations of its own and received radio traffic from other agencies as well (notably Goering’s Research Bureau (FA). It also received landline traffic from sources unstated. With the exception of military attaché systems, it did not work on enemy army, navy or air force traffic. Documentary evidence as to its cryptanalytic successes is limited. The following summary covers its most important known cryptanalytic achievements.

  1. The most extensive 1939–44 successes seem to have been achieved with French systems. In particular the electrical Hagelin cipher machine B-211. The French armed forces purchased a small number of Hagelin machines (C-36 and B-211) in the early 1930s. These systems proved secure during the period of the phoney war and the Battle of France. After hostilities ended however the cryptanalysts of the army signal intelligence agency Inspectorate 7/VI (later OKH/GdNA) managed to acquire these cipher machines and they found ways to break the messages. Although their research was only of a theoretical character, since no new traffic was intercepted on these systems, once the Free French forces of General De Gaulle started using them again they were in a position to benefit from their earlier research. Limited success was also achieved in the solution of the French Hagelin machine BC-38. An important military attaché code (ASA trigraph FVD) was solved  at the beginning of the war.

After 1940, all Vichy-French systems were automatically compromised once they were filed

with the German Armistice Commission at Wiesbaden.

  • At least four Japanese diplomatic codes (including those designated by ASA trigraphs JAE, JAH, and JBA) were solved.

In 1938 and 1939 the agency collaborated with the cryptoanalytic section of the Foreign Office (Pers Z) in a current solution of daily keys for the Japanese Red machine.

  • Precise details on the solution of US systems are not yet made available but we do know that the agency had compromised copies of at least two US State Department codes, namely Brown and A1. Work was also done on the US State Department ciphers O-1, and O- 2, the lead in the solution of O-2 being taken by the Foreign Office Cryptanalytic section.
  • Croatian Enigma traffic was solved through compromised machine wirings.
  • Little information is available from the report on any successes with the solution of English systems. Polish, Turkish, Greek and Latin American systems were solved extensively. Prior to 1943 appreciable successes were achieved in the solution of Italian diplomatic codes.

During the first half of 1944 important decodes designated as VN’s (Verigessliche Nachrichten) totalled 3,000 per month from which on average, 40 selected decodes were sent to Field Marshall Keitel, Chief of Armed Forces, to Hitler and by Keitel to General Jodl, Chief of the Armed Force Operations Staff. They were also sent to the army, navy and air force high commands and probably to the signal intelligence agencies of these commands. In addition approximately 45 special reports were sent every day to special recipients such as the Field Economic Office, the department of the Armed Forces Propaganda, the Western Armies Branch and Joint Intelligence.

After 1944 the Signal Intelligence Agency of the Supreme Command issued cryptographic systems for the Army and inter-service communications. One of its most important responsibilities by the end of the war was the evaluating of the cryptographic systems of other services. A file belonging to Dr Erich Hüttenhain, its chief cryptographer indicated that cryptographic studies were made on cipher teleprinters, enigma machines, specially designed Hagelin machines, small cipher devices and hand systems.

As far as its own security was concerned, OKW/Chi was responsible for the two most serious German cryptographic mistakes of the War: the continued use in high-level German military communications of the plugboard Enigma machine and the teleprinter cipher attachment SZ42 in their insecure forms. OKW/Chi rejected the 1943 proposals of the Army Security Signal Agency (IN 7//IV) that the (insecure) SZ 42 be replaced by the cipher teleprinter T52D

which they believed to be a secure device. It also frowned on suggestions that the insecure plugboard Enigma be used with pluggable reflector wheels, a change that would have made it secure.

Approximately 800 persons were employed in all duties other than interception.

8 The German Foreign Office Cryptanalytic Section.

The German Foreign Office had two cryptologic sections: the cryptanalytic section (Personal Z Sonderdienst des Auswärtigen Amtes abbreviated Pers Z S) and the cryptographic section (Personal Z Chiffrierdienst der Auswärtigen Amtes abbreviated Pers X Chi)

The cryptanalytic section of the Foreign Office (Pers Z S) was the senior German cryptanalytic agency. It was set up in 1919 or possibly before. At its greatest strength it employed approximately 200 persons. Its role was the solution of foreign diplomatic codes and ciphers. The section had on small intercept station at Dahlem. For the rest of its intercept material it was dependent upon the Signal Intelligence Agency of the Supreme Command Armed Forces (OKW Chi), Goering’s Research Bureau (FA) and the German Post Office.

The cryptanalytic section achieved its greatest success with diplomatic codes, both one-part and two-part, enciphered and unenciphered.

a). From 1935 to 1942 It achieved practically 100 per cent success in all solutions of Italian diplomatic codes.

  • It read the US State Department Grey, Brown and A-1 codes. It also succeeded in solving the American Diplomatic strip ciphers O-1 and O-2, the former in partial fashion based upon a compromise.
  • The section solved two British Foreign Office R codes and the British government telegraph codes.
  • In 1940, success in the solution of French diplomatic codes was estimated at 75 per cent.
  • A number of major diplomatic codes were read and there is evidence that at least one major Chinese system was solved.

f). The Section also solved two machine ciphers, the Japanese Red machine was solved in 1938 and read currently until 1939. The section collaborated with the OKW/Chi in this but it is not known which agency deserves credit for the original solution. In 1941, after a partial solution by Goering’s Research Bureau (FA) the Swiss diplomatic Enigma traffic was solved. Little information is available on the section’s achievements in terms of intelligence. The distribution it gave its codes is unknown. The section’s personnel seem to have thought primarily in terms of cryptanalysis as a science rather than in terms of what their  intelligence contribution meant to a successful German diplomacy. This was similar to the view held by the civilians in GC & CS, certainly in Berkeley Street. The section seems to have been badly neglected by higher Foreign Office authorities, both with respect to the need for personnel and with regard to interest in its work.



Once again, the Ticom report is very helpful indeed in telling us that German cryptanalytic success was generally against medium-grade systems which consisted for the most part of codes – either enciphered or unenciphered – the solving of which required perseverance, intelligence and linguistic ability but certainly very little of what might be called higher cryptanalysis and whilst solving these relatively easier systems they had not developed any

important cryptanalytic methods not already known or used by the Anglo–Americans. Impressive though this list of successes is, in higher cryptanalysis, especially in the field of high-grade machine ciphers, the record of what they did not accomplish is, fortunately, almost as long. Although they were successful with the Japanese Red machine they failed with its successor Purple. They failed to solve the US Army Converter M-134c (Sigaba), converter M-228 (Sigcum) nor its successor the One-time Tape System (SIGTOT). They failed to solve the joint Army-Navy–British combined cipher machine and it is not even clear whether they were even aware of the existence of the Anglo–American high security system (SIGSALY) as there was not a single reference to it. It is absolutely certain that they did not solve the British Typex machine. It is interesting that in all their security studies there is no evidence that they had investigated any practical methods of solving their own plugboard Enigma or their teleprinter cipher attachments.

Whether the German intelligence organisations deserve praise or censure, the fact remains that their cryptoanalytic methods had few, if any, bright highlights. There was, seemingly, no German equivalent of Bletchley Park which, somehow or other, managed to bring together the three services and the Foreign Office including the SIS who might be said to have been bought off by running and controlling the system for the distribution of Ultra intelligence and which helped to salvage something from the wreck of their failures. We were lucky!