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Is Alan Turing's effort code-breaking effort to the war exaggerated?

Discussion in 'Codes, Cyphers & Spies' started by DerGiLLster, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    You repeatedly introduce statistics that are either theoretical or are based upon comparing data that would be available only after the war and each sides archives became available, some of which many years after the war do to secrecy restrictions. The very definition of hindsight.

    Yes some of the data would be known in real time, but only that generated by that side and much would be deeply flawed. "Kill" claim's on both sides were wildly inflated, and if fully credited, Germany lost more subs than they built and the Allies lost more merchantmen than they could build. You acknowledge neither the Fog of War nor the Friction of War

    What is even more deeply flawed in your reasoning is the single mindedness with which you attempt to reduce every event to a mathematical equation. X minus Y inevitably leads to Z. Always, immutably, incontrovertibly. For you the human factor is always irrelevant and inconsequential despite the little issue that war is a human act. If numbers alone determined the outcome of human events The US and Israel would not exist, nor would there have been a British Empire. War is not a tabletop game where people who fight and command do what someone in a easy chair tells them to do regardless of the cost. Wars are won as much in the mind as it is on the ground.

    With respect to ENIGMA only you seem determined to put forth the red herring that it was the sole decisive factor in winning the Battle of the Atlantic, or the war itself, by falsely claiming it is our view. I do not believe any of us has made that claim, only that it played a important role, as did more escort's, better training, new weapons and tactic's, more long range aircraft and aircraft deployed on escort carrier's. I can not quantify how merchant hulls were not sunk because of RDF, K-Guns, Hedgehogs, Hunter-Killer groups or ENIGMA, but whatever the number they were saved by these things, winning the war faster and at considerably lower cost in lives and treasure. Irrelevant to you it may be, but not to those who actually went into harm's way.

    Unlike most Allied technical innovations ENIGMA offered value beyond one battlespace or segment of the conflict as it offered tactical intelligence from the entire ETO/MTO and even some on the Eastern Front. It didn't win battles in itself, but it offered the Allies the chance to get inside the decision making circle of the Axis. Again I can not quantify how many lives were saved, but some were and many of us here today would not be otherwise.

    Tactical intelligence helps win skirmishes at lower cost, win enough skirmishes and you win battles, win enough battles and you win campaigns, win enough campaigns you win the war. It isn't pretty and the math is fuzzy, but is none the less real, as real as counting bayonets.
     
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  2. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    It was the BP lobby who claimed that Enigma (thus BP ) shortened the war by 2 years and saved the lives of millions . Something which is totally nonsense .

    I have repeatedly asked for a list of merchant ships who were saved by Enigma information and for a list of U Boats who were killed by Enigma information,and no one was able to give even ONE exemple.

    Tactical intelligence ha only value if it is useful and it is only useful,when it is discovered at time (most Enigma messages were detected to late )and when the person who receives the information has the forces to do smething with it . If Enigma said that there was a U Boat on point X, and (as it was mostly- there was no aircraft/ship available to go quickly to point X to kill the U Boat, the value of the message was zero .
     
  3. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The Atlantic was ONLY one of the places of the U Boat war .

    Wrong : in june 1940 The Norwegian merchant fleet (most of it :some 80 % ) joined Britain :the Norwegian merchant fleet was 4.5 million of GRT,of which 1.8 million of tankers .The help of the Norwegian merchant fleet was the double of what was lost between june and november 1940.
     
  4. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    There is no proof that Enigma played an important role ,besides,there is no such thing as an important role .

    No proof for an important role in the U Boat war, in the air war, in operation Overlord, in the Ardennes, in Market Garden, in North Africa, in Barbarossa, in the war against Japan.

    Every one had its own Enigma (the story that only Britain had its Enigma is only good to caress British ego) and it did not help Germany, Italy and Japan .Thus why should Enigma be important for the Allies ?

    The war against the U Boats was won because the Allies could produce more ships and aircraft than the Germans .
     
  5. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    On Post 7 it was claimed that"the sub menace was clearly shortened by Enigma " One will notice the words "clearly" and "shortened " .There is no proof at all for this claim .But,what was obvious for every one on 1 september 1939 is that the sub never could win the war against Britain,whatever the number of operational U Boats may be. More U Boats does not mean more sinkings of merchant ships .

    There were more U Boats in 1941 than in 1940 ,but the number of lost merchant ships remained the same .And that was something that was known at the Admiralty and at Lorient .This is not hindsight . .The only thing Dönitz could do was to try to delay the Allied buil-up in Britain,and he failed .
     
  6. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    LJAD if enigma was so useless why would the US build so many machines, why would there be so much effort to reroute convoys away from subs using enigma??? Two British seaman lost their lives on a sinking Uboat to save the code books. Yes the Norwegian fleet made up for the losses, but you completely ignore the reality that if the rate of ship losses kept up then they would have gone through those ships too. One reason for the high losses was the use of wolf packs that you keep insisting was non existant .
     
  7. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    You still not grasp it : Enigma was only a reaction on what Dönitz decided after he received his B-Dienst messages about convoys (the B-dienst messages were not the only source),and the B-Dienst messages were totally insufficient : there were in 1942 thousands of convoys(for the North-Mid Atlantic alone 253) and only 64 Wolfpacks,of which 17 had no success .Thus thousands of convoys and only a few messages and only on a few of them was Dönitz capable to react .And only on these few messages could Enigma react . This all is liiting the importance of B-Dienst, Enigma ,Wolfpacks .And the Admiralty could react on only a part of the Enigma messages ,for a lot of reasons .Dônitz also could react only a part of the B-Dienst messages .:convoys would be attacked only when it was possible and when the attack was assumed to have a chance to succeed . Dönitz would not order to attack a very fast convoy,or a well protected convoy .

    It was the same for the Admiralty : a message from Enigma would not automatically result in the rerouting of a convoy : a convoy would be rerouted when it was possible,or when it was needed :fast convoys, or convoys with a heavy protection would not be rerouted .

    And were independently sailing ships rerouted ? The Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were not rerouted .

    At every stap,the potential influence of Enigma became smaller and smaller .

    Besides, Enigma messages were not the only source of information about Wolfpacks .

    In 1942 the 64 Wolfpacks resulted in the loss of 258 merchant ships and 30 U Boats ;But in 1942 there were probably some 100000 merchant ships sailing in convoys . non including those sailing independently .

    What is 258 on 100000.?

    The B-dienst messages resulted only in pinpricks and Enigma reacted on these pinpricks .

    258 ships = 1.2 million of GRT and the US shipping production was much more in 1942 .

    That 2 British sailors lost their lives on a sinking UBoat t save the code books does not mean that these books were very important .
     
  8. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    you really don't understand. your number of 100000 is clearly made out of air. If it was of so little importance why would the allies spend so much effort. The importance of Enigma was it alerted the allies when a convoy had been spotted and the areas that the sub would be concentrated and thus the principle of they cant hit you when they are not there is why the allies wanted to reroute their convoys
     
  9. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The figure of 100000 is very plausible,and probably to low .

    From the AHF,thread : "Ship losses to aircraft" ,a post by M.Kenny :

    "Allied and neutral merchant ship losses by Germany in 1942: 1570 ships ,of which 1155 by U Boats."



    As the losses of ships sailing in convoys were on the average 0.33 % and those sailing independently 0.66 %,which makes a total of 0.5 %,the figure of 100000 allied and neutral ships sailing on the oceans (including coastal shipping ) ,100000 is not to high .,it is a minimum .

    The losses of the big Atlantic convoys,who were those who were mostly attacked were only 2 %, the losses of the other convoys were lower, the same for the losses of the ships sailing independently .
     
  10. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    1 ) How many convoys were spotted ? Only a small part of the Atlantic convoys and an insignificant part of the other convoys, besides ,not all ships sailed in convoys .

    2) That is meaningless :how many of the convoys that were spotted by Enigma were discovered by the Wolfpacks, how many of those that were discovered were attacked,and 25 % of the attacks failed :17 of the 64 Wolfpacks that were formed in 1942 failed .
     
  11. green slime

    green slime Member

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    "Germany didn't need any trucks."

    Just sayin'.
     
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  12. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    But,no cigar, OTOH a nice try to go off-topic .
     
  13. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    As the chances for a wolfpack to find a convoy were questionable, the importance of rerouting a convoy also was questionable.

    As the chances for a wolfpack to attack a convoy that was found,the importance of rerouting a convoy was questionable .

    As 25 % of the attacks by wolfpacks failed, the importance of rerouting a convoy was questionable .

    As most convoys who were successfully attacked,suffered only small losses, the importance of rerouting a convoy was questionable .

    Fictive exemple :

    1) The Admiralty sent/received 1000 messages ,not all about convoys .

    2) The B Dienst succeeded into intercepting 600 of them

    3) 500 messages were sent to Dönitz,who threw away 150 of them ,and reacted on 350 by ordening to shadow convoys and to prepare wolfpacks

    4) BP succeeded into intercepting 220 of them and 180 were sent to the Admiralty

    5) The Admiralty threw away 80 of them and ordered 50 convoys to go back and 30 to be rerouted, 20 others would continue .

    6) Of these rerouted, 23 were successfully attacked and of the 300 ships, 1 was sunk (the average losses for ships sailing in convoy was 0.33% = 1 /300 .)

    A lot about nothing .

    The theory that Britain was knee-dick in crocodiles, but was saved by Turning, is founded on wishful-thinking . It is good for selling novels but has no scientific foundation .
     
  14. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    First of all no one said it saved Britain, once again you are making things up. The question is was it over rated. The fact that the allies spent so much time and effort in enigma rules your argument useless,
     
  15. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    No : it does not, not at all . That the allies spent a lot of time and effort in Enigma is totally irrelevant for the importance of Enigma . The only thing that is relevant are the results of Enigma .


    Britain spent a lot of time and effort against the V1/ V2 ,but this does not prove that the V1/V2 were important .
     
  16. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    This thread is swarming of very questionable claims,as

    Post 12 :the Nazi War effort may have conceivably succeeded in the Atlantic without BP : the truth is that the U Boats never had any chance to force Britain to give up by starving her . This is essentially the conclusion of Clay Blair .

    Post 7 : The sub menace clearly was shortened by Enigma : there is no proof for this and it is also irrelevant as the sub "menace " never had the importance it was given .

    Post 8 : without Enigma ,Rommel would have gotten 99 % of what was sent to him : no : this is not proved, because it assumes,without any proof, that all losses of the NA convoys of the Axis were caused by Enigma .

    Post 20 : the British Isles were not self sufficient for food : a useless clincher which does not indicate the importance of food imports .The truth is that during the war British food imports were down from 20 million to some 10 million ton yearly,and that Britain survived . This was caused essentially because the domestic food production increased :before the war tilled land was 8.3 million acres, during the war it increased to 13.7 million acres ;less was imported,more was produced .

    And,before the war,British agricultural output was 19 billion calories,of which 4 billion was depending on imports .

    During the war,it was 29 billion,with only 1 billion depending on imports .

    Source = German Submarine Blockade, Overseas Imports and British Military Production in WWII P29 .

    The truth is that during the war imports were less important for Britain than before the war, which indicates that the submarine menace never had the importance it was given after the war by people as Churchill when he wrote a novel with as title " . The Second World War "
     
  17. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Fixed that for ya.

    Your highly speculative, admitedly fictive example is typical of your "reasoning".

    It is a monumental failure at trying to convince with any authority whatsoever, and completely lacks any scientific foundation.

    Firstly, a ship does not need to be sunk to to be effectively removed for a significant period of time. Further, repairing a ship reduces the number of dockyards available for new construction. It is a fundamental maxim in manufacturing, you cannot make up lost time. Britain did experience a serious backlog of ships needing repairs.

    Second, you are considering both Western Allies rates of ship building, when for most of 1941, the US was still not in the game, and Germany did actually succeed for three months to exceed the British rate of ship building.

    Lastly the cumulative knock-on effects of rerouting convoys, vectoring aggressive assets, significantly reduces the submariners effectiveness; therefore your 0,33% is entirely invalidated. You cannot use an average rate over the entire war to speculatively demonstrate the inefficiency of doing something that actually prevented that rate from being higher during any particular encounter, especially if those encounters occurred earlier in the war.

    Your inability to respond to these criticisms, which were raised earlier in this thread, is not unexpected. Reiterating an entirely fictitious example is no evidence whatsoever.
     
  18. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The use of an average rate is the only way to discuss the point .

    That Germany succeeded during 3 months (of 12 ! ) to exceed the British rate of ship building is a wrong and irrelevant argument,as on the day of PH , Britain had more(and not less ) GRT available than on 3 september 1939 .

    It is also a clincher, as it proves nothing : it does not prove that British imports were going down and especially there is no proof that the decreasing of British imports was making Britain's food and supply Britain's domestic . situation more difficult ,because these depended mostly on domestic production and not on imports . There was one thing that Britain could not produce : oil,and the imports of oil during the war remained stable at the level of the préwar imports .

    And 1941 was a good year for Britain and a bad year for the U Boats (all years were bad for the U Boats) :in 1940 the U Boats succeeded to sink 439 ships, in 1941 (with more operational U Boats ) 426 .
     
  19. green slime

    green slime Member

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    No, it is not the only way to discuss the point. Especially from a mathematical or scientific viewpoint, which you like to harp on pretending you have.

    Hardly irrelevant at all, as the threat those 3 months show, that the danger was very real. That the GRT was greater from 1.9.39 to 7.12.41 just shows the benefit of the one-off seizure of foreign shipping. Shipping, that prior to the war, had also been providing Britain with supplies. Not some mythical "gain", which you would like to imply.

    As previously stated; sunk ships do not reveal the whole truth either. Damaged ships need repair. repairing ships reduces new production. From the very outbreak of war the dockyards found themselves overwhelmed with ships sent for refit or repairs. The merchant tonnage under repair reached a peak of 2.5 million gross tons in February 1941 and was still a little below two million gross tons at the end of 1941. Twelve escort destroyers, twenty 'whalers' and nineteen submarines had been deleted from the 1940 naval programme to free additional steel for the merchant shipbuilding programme.

    Further, your rather simplistic analysis of what Britain needed to import during the war contra peacetime imports, is easily shown to be false; there was a war going on! This increased the transport needs. Further, it increased the needs across the entire empire. It was most definitely not BAU. The only reason Britain managed to keep producing was the decision to develop stockpiles of up to 6 months of important materials already prior to the war, such as bauxite, hemp, copper, phosphate rock, and iron ore.
     
  20. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    You have to prove that the Norwegian, Dutch, Belgian,etc shipping was providing Britain with food before the war .And what about the big number of Italian tankers that was captured by Britain ?

    At the start of the war, Britain had between 18 and 20 million ton of merchant ships, this was increased by British and Dominion ship building (between 8 and 10 million ) and by the gain of most of the Norwegian, Belgian, Dutch, Danish and Greek merchant fleet (also almost 10 million) which makes a total of almost 40 million GRT.

    OTOH Britain and its allies (without the US ) lost 15 million GRT in the war against Germany,of which some 10 million by U Boats .

    The conclusion is that Britain and its allies had a bigger merchant fleet at the end of the war than at the start of the war:this is a clear proof of the failure of the U Boats .


    The reason of this failure is that for every GRT that Britain lost,she was able to compensate this by 2 additional GRT . The reason was not the intercepting and decoding of a certain number of German messages by Enigma ,the German B Dienst had been able to intercept and decode a certain number of British messages, but no one will say that the 10 million allied GRT lost by U Boats was the work of the B Dienst.
    Saying the opposite= that Enigma saved millions of additional allied GRT proves 3 things

    1) Chauvinism : our spies were better than the German ones, because we were more intelligent :first the civilised Western Allies, than the Germans (civilised but not as us ) and last but least the uncivilised Mongolian barbarians from the SU who could defeat Germany only because of US Lend-Lease and British Enigma .The conviction of the Western superiority is very ingrained.


    2 ) Juvenile fascination for spy stories and for mysterious scientists in white coats


    3 ) Inability to put oneself in a world from 75 years ago and to reason that the technology of today applied in the past .
     

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