Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

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

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

  1. green slime

    green slime Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    Messages:
    3,143
    Likes Received:
    578
    In August 1942, a third of Rommel’s supplies and almost half his fuel were lost in the Mediterranean, thanks to convoy attacks by Royal Air Force (RAF) medium bombers and Royal Navy submarines.

    The British well informed about his plan, Ultra intelligence disclosed it.

    The relentless efforts of the Royal Navy and the Allied air forces to cut off the supplies to the Axis forces in northwest Africa during 1942 and 1943 are recounted fully in "The War Against Rommel’s Supply Lines, 1942-1943", by Alan J. Levine. A historian specializing in World War II, Russian history and international relations,

    Levine explains how the success of the Allies’ interdiction campaign led to a relatively cheap triumph over a large enemy force. That success would have a major impact on subsequent campaigns in Europe.
     
  2. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    4,997
    Likes Received:
    236
    This is total meaningless :this does not prove that Rommel received in august only two thirds of his supplies and only 50 % of his fuel : it indicates only that 66 % of the Axis supplies (and 50 % of the Axis fuel) that were sent to NA ,arrived in Tripolis .

    It also does not prove that Rommel would have done better with more supplies .

    The use of % is also wrong,because it gives a false picture :

    In august 1942,68000 ton was sent to NA ,of which 18000 ton fuel;arrived at Tripôli (which means : NOT at the front) 51000 ton,of which 13000 ton fuel .

    A year before (july 1941),74000 was sent to NA ,of which 8500 ton fuel only ;arrived at Tripoli 62000 ton,of which only 6000 ton fuel.

    What was important was not how much was lost,but how much arrived,and this was depending principally on how much was available and how much was sent .


    Last point : the supplies were NOT Rommel's supplies : the Germans received less than the Italians .In 1942 the Italians (Army,Airforce and Navy) received 420000 ton,the Italian civilians 75000 tons and the Germans 280000 tons .
     
  3. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    4,997
    Likes Received:
    236
    In 1942 the following supplies were sent to NA/delivered(source :Axis supplies for NA 1941/1943) in thousands of tons


    January : 66000 /66000

    February :58000/ 58000

    March : 55000 /47000

    April : 150000 /150000

    May : 92000 /86000



    June : 39000 /32000

    July : 96000 /91000

    August : 68000/51000

    September : 92000/77000

    October : 65000 / 46000

    November : 113000 /97000

    December : 86000 /66000

    But NO ONE can say how much of what arrived at Tripoli,arrived at the front and when .

    It is perfectly possible that Rommel received in august more supplies than in july .


    All the claims of the decisive importance of Ultra and Malta are only twaddle .

    Besides, more informations from Ultra do not mean that more Italian merchant ships would be lost .

    And it is the same for the Battle of the Atlantic :when they arrived at the Admiralty,most Ultra informations were already obsolete .
     
  4. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    25,099
    Likes Received:
    1,805
    Location:
    Finland
    [SIZE=12pt]From the "Secret in building 26" by Jim DeBrosse and Colin Burke

    In Feb 1942 the Kriegsmarine introduced the fourth wheel to the enigma machine ( named Triton by nazis and M4 Shark by the British ) .

    In the spring 1943 as the U-boat offensive opened, the Germans changed some of their codes and tightened up their procedures so that the Allies were again shut out of the submarine code systems. They remained blind for more than a week what became the worst month for the Allies in the battle of the Atlantic. More than twice as many Allied merchant ships ( ninety-five ) went to the bottom in March as February.

    The destruction might have been even worse had another surge of insight among the British codebreakers not allowed the three-wheel Bombes to be useful again. U-boats were required to report the sighting of any Allied convoy to Admiral Dönitz´s headquarters, using a special short-signal code so that Allied direction-finding equipment wouldn´t have time to home in on their transmissions.However, the British had a copy of the latest codebook for those short signals, captured from U-559 in Nov 1942. The codebooks, plus an order to U-boat skippers to report weather conditions and convoy sightings in the Enigma´s simpler three-wheel mode , allowed Bletchley´s Hut 8 to solve Shark for 90 of the 112 days between March 10 and June 30 1943.

    ---------

    November 1943 was when the US Bombes at last began breaking the keys to the Shark code on routine basis. By December, the average time for gaining entry into Shark was thirty-six hours- down dramatically from the embarrassing early months of 1943 when the Americans had needed an average of twenty-five days to break Shark, mostly by hand.

    By the summer of 1944, hundreds of submarine messages were being read the same day, some within minutes of their transmission, giving Allied antisubmarine forces a fresh bead on the subs´whereabouts.
    [/SIZE]
     
    macrusk and DerGiLLster like this.
  5. green slime

    green slime Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    Messages:
    3,143
    Likes Received:
    578
    Senseless, meaningless twaddle is what this sentence is.

    Your tonnages are nearly entirely meaningless. It matters not if they are tons of socks. Therefore there is also the little matter of what arrives, and when it arrives, and needs to be considered against what they already have.

    In other words, you elect to disbelieve the letters written home by the Axis high command, during the events themselves. For whatever reason.
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    25,099
    Likes Received:
    1,805
    Location:
    Finland
    Unfortunately the figures have vanished from the net but I found these in our wonderful forum as I put them here back in 2003 or 2004

    [SIZE=small]The 10th Submarine Flotilla, between January 1941 and April 1942:

    Headquarters Staff:
    Captain GWG Simpson RN, CB, CBE.
    Cdr G Tanner RN, OBE
    Lt Cdr (E) SA McGregor, RN, OBE
    Lt Cdr R Giddings, RN, OBE

    HMS Upright (Commanded by Lieutenant E.D. Norman DSO, DSC and then J.S. Wraith DSC) (1 Cruiser 1 destroyer, 4 supply ships and 1 floating dock for 23,408 tons)

    HMS Utmost (Commanded by Lieutenant-Commander R.D. Cayley DSO) (1 transport and 6 supply ships for 43,993 tons)

    HMS Unique (Commanded by Lieutenant A.F. Collett DSC) (1 AMC, 1 transport and 2 supply ships for 20,382 tons)

    HMS Upholder (Commanded by Lieutenant-Commander M.D. Wanklyn VC, DSO) (2 destroyers, 3 submarines, 3 transport, 10 supply ships, 2 tankers and 1 trawler for 128,353 tons)

    HMS Usk (Commanded by Lieutenant P.R. Ward and then Lieutenant F.P. Darling)

    HMS Ursula (Commanded by Lieutenant P.R. Ward and then Lieutenant A.R. Hezlet DSC) (2 supply ships for 14,640 tons)

    HMS Undaunted (Commanded by Lieutenant J.L. Livesay)

    HMS Unbeaten (Commanded by Lieutenant E.A. Woodward DSO) (2 submarines, 2 supply ships, 1 tanker, 1 collier and 2 schooners for 30,616 tons)

    HMS Union (Commanded by Lieutenant R.F. Galloway) (1 supply ship, 2,800 tons)

    HMS Urge (Commanded by Lieutenant-Commander E.P. Tomkinson DSO and Bar) (2 cruisers, 1 destroyer, 1 transport, 5 supply ships and 2 tankers for 74,669 tons)

    HMS P33 (Commanded by Lieutenant R.D. Whiteway-Wilkinson DSC) (1 supply ship, 6,600 tons)

    HMS P32 (Commanded by Lieutenant D.A.B. Abdy)

    ORP (Polish) Sokol (Commanded by Commander Karnicki VM, DSO) (1 destroyer, 2 supply ships and 1 schooner for 7,462 tons)

    HMS P34 (Commanded by Lieutenant P.R.H. Harrison DSO, DSC) (1 submarine, 1,461 tons)

    HMS P31 (Commanded by Lieutenant J.B. de B. Kershaw DSO) (1 cruiser and 1 supply ship for 12,100 tons)

    HMS Una (Commanded by Lieutenant D.S.R. Martin and then Lieutenant C.P. Norman) (1 supply ship, 1 tanker and 1 schooner for 15,355 tons)

    HMS P38 (Commanded by Lieutenant R.J. Hemmingway DSC) (1 supply ship, 4,170 tons)

    HMS P35 (Commanded by Lieutenant S.L.C. Maydon) (1 supply ship and 1 salvage tug for 4,471 tons)

    HMS P36 (Commanded by Lieutenant H.N. Edmonds DSC)

    HMS P39 (Commanded by Lieutenant N. Marriott, DSC with Lieutenant J.D. Martin as spare commanding officer)

    Between January 1941 and December 1942, the Italians lost 171 ships in the Mediterranean, totalling over half a million tons. A high proportion of those losses were inflicted by the submarines of Malta[/SIZE], supported by those from Alexandria/Beirut and Gibraltar. Losing half a million tons of shipping was key to the Axis defeat in North Africa.
     
    macrusk and Otto like this.
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    25,099
    Likes Received:
    1,805
    Location:
    Finland
    Also worth mentioning and definitely reading:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Torpedo-Leader-Malta-R-P-M-Gibbs/dp/1902304837



    Torpedo Leader on Malta. by R.P.M. Gibbs
    I read this book back in 2004

    [SIZE=10pt]Torpedo Leader on Malta
    by Author: Patrick Gibbs

    The interesting thing about the convoy war is that according to Mr Gibbs´ book there might not have been any need for the Enigma information here ( he doesn´t say so but according to how they found the ships I don´t think they used or needed any of that info ). And honestly it sounds so simple that I think it probably was so.

    1. The reconnaissance Spitfires checked the local harbours every day and they knew exactly when the boats were ready to go to Africa. And where the axis fighter planes were.

    2. The axis convoys used the same route every time so it was easy to figure the place where to attack, and secondly when to leave for the attack ( dusk attack ). Naturally there was a recon plane some time before the torpedo[/SIZE] planes so they would be informed of any delays of the convoy etc.

    3. During the early part of war there were not many Beauforts or Beaufighters but loadsa German planes so it was not that easy to sink axis convoy ships. But as war went on the balance changed and more planes were ready for torpedo attacks. As well as Malta became more peaceful the torpedo planes were transferred to Malta instead of Egypt, the latter of which is quite far away from the Southern Italy harbours.

    On the convoy system:

    " Although we were continually developing new tactics and changing our positions of attack, the enemy showed a curious reluctance to alter either routing or the defences of the ships, a weakness of which we gratefully took every possible adavantage."

    The merchant vessels weren´t though unprotected:

    There were often several destroyers and even fighters flying over them.

    The beaufighters were contacting the fighters while the beauforts would attack the merchant vessels. Some of the Beauforts had bombs which were dropped near the phase when the torpedoes were dropped so the flak would have to divert its fire ( to planes above and over the sea ) and the torpedo planes would not get all the fire at its most critical moment. Later on the Beaufighters attacked the flak as mostly the fighter escort was not so heavy except for more important cargo.
     
  8. Uplink

    Uplink New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    5
    I think Churchill was referring to the product of the decryption effort, called "Ultra," and not to any one individual. The existence of the decoding team and its members, plus the accomplishment itself, remained top secret even after the war and after Turing had committed suicide.
    I do know why he said it though. In the early part of the war, England was alone and the Battle of the Atlantic was going in the wrong direction, fast. In order to lure allies towards England, Churchill was able to present Ultra as the equivalent of reading Hitler's mail. What else could he offer?
    Ultra was directly responsible for Montgomery's successful thrashing of Rommel and boy, did they need that. They broke the German Naval codes and aided in the destruction of the U-boat threat. The list is impressive.
    As for Turing, you could not script a more tragic figure and I'm sure his recent fame has to do with the uncanny events that constitute his life. His bio is very interesting. And first off, he was the youngest person ever to be made a full professor at Kings College. He was so brilliant he was barely able to recognize how the social world around him worked. He enlisted the first day after England declared war on Germany. He is recognized today as the inventor and creator of the first Programmable computer used to sort out all those combinations that the message in question could not be. The so called Bombes could process fantastic numbers and sped the process so the intel would be useful to the current commanders.
    His story after the war was the emergence of his gay behavior and arrest for lewd conduct. True to form he misreads the investigators and ends up incriminating himself and is prosecuted. At the time, the penalty imposed to avoid jail or surgery was dosing on hormones. He couldn't say who he was as it all was top secret. So yes, the story of Alan Turing is too dramatic not to recognize. And he never claimed credit for what he did. Others did.
     
    gtblackwell and DerGiLLster like this.
  9. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,587
    Likes Received:
    299
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    The Wehrmacht was broken at the east and not a single bit of data originating from the Ultra contributed to that major reason of the collapse of Nazi Germany. Take that into account and "years" gained by the Ultra turn into minutes. Station X helped to win partial British victories against the U-boats and in the Mediterranean, not the entire war.
     
  10. Uplink

    Uplink New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2016
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    5
    The key for me in understanding Turing's emergence (his story got the $$Hollywood$$ treatment in "The Imitation Game") is the simple fact he was gay and he was the prototypical nerd who was clumsy in social settings but absolutely nailed it when the talk turned to creating a machine that could "think." If you have ever seen bits of "The Big Bang Theory" on TV, it's hard not to acknowledge that computer nerds are a reality in the world today. NSA? Wiki leaks? And it's generally agreed that while working on decoding Enigma, he invented the tool we know as a programmable computer. So he's where computer history begins when people look for the first. The problems caused by his gay behavior is also an important point of connection for people who function awkwardly and who find personal freedom in Computerland. It was never his intention but he is a hero to some people.
     
  11. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    71
    Tamino, the information the Soviets gained for Citadel most likely came from ultra. Due to secrecy we don't know the source, but the Soviets did gain valuable info and because of the British spy ring he gained information that collaborated intel
     
    von Poop likes this.
  12. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,587
    Likes Received:
    299
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    Steve, that's wide spread speculation but serious historical sources claim the opposite.

    The historian Sir Harry Hinsley, who wrote the official history of British intelligence in the war, has catagorically denied the British used these networks to pass Ultra-derived information to the Soviets.' The GRU controlled an agent network abroad which encompassed the infamous spy networks operating in Switzerland ("Dora," "Lucy"). Although much has been written in a popular vein about these networks, their impact on operations was only marginal.


    More on this subject you may find in "Soviet Oerational Intelligence in the Kursk Operation", by David Glanz, Soviet Army Studies. Office, Fort Lavenworth, Kansas, June 1986. HERE IS THE LINK.
     
    LJAd likes this.
  13. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    4,997
    Likes Received:
    236
    The informations the Soviets gained for Citadel came mostly from local intelligence .The Dora and Lucy stories are good for spy novels ,the Cairncross story is an invention from British journalists searching for a scoop:Cairncross was a Scottish communist who worked at Ultra and who became after the war a Soviet spy ;at the end of his live,he boasted to ignorant people like journalists that he gave to the Soviet embassy Citadel informations who enabled the Soviets to defeat the Germans, while there has been no proof that Ultra had any informations about Citadel :every day Ultra received thousands of undecoded German messages;it was inpossible to decode them all;the importance of most of them was insignifiant .
     
    Tamino likes this.
  14. green slime

    green slime Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    Messages:
    3,143
    Likes Received:
    578
    "...we did our best to make sure that they knew about all the important forthcoming development. Don't forget they had very good intelligence of their own, not primarily Sigint but they had very good air reconnaissance and air superiority after a certain time, and they had an enormous espionage system behind the German lines. So they weren't without information. But we did do our best to make sure that they got crucial early notice whenever we got it ourselves. It was a big dilemma and one that was fought about. Churchill wanted to risk it and let them have more. Naturally the Ultra authorities didn't want to risk it because everything hangs on it you see, so there was a tussle all the time about how much to send."

    Q. The was a programme recently on Kursk - one might say that a Russian counter-factual historian would say that if we didn't have the Ultra which we got in various ways, then we wouldn't have been able to win the battle of Kursk and Hitler would have been able to carve up Russia. This is perhaps another case . . .

    "Another case. Stalingrad of course is another one. Those two battles were crucial, especially Stalingrad. Again it wasn't only through us they were getting . . . we did give them the central facts in advance of Kursk. But as we now know, we didn't know at the time, the one single Russian agent in Bletchley was at that time (just that short period of time before and after Kursk in '43) actually giving them decrypts through the Russian Embassy in London. So all sorts of complications about the story. He didn't know that they were getting the supply from London officially, and we didn't know that he was sending the decrypts unofficially."

    1993 interview with Sir Harry Hinsley
    http://www.cix.co.uk/~klockstone/hinsley.htm
     
  15. green slime

    green slime Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    Messages:
    3,143
    Likes Received:
    578
    Ultra was seldomly, if ever, the only source of information, but it was an important source, and a near-continuous source on many different levels. As such it is very difficult to both limit, or properly identify the effects of the intelligence gained. How much value is there in corroborating other information, or, once "Fish" was decyphered, understanding German intent? The enormous benefit was the speed of decryption allowed the western allies to quickly gain insights. These may not appear as war changing, but the cumulative effect is obviously beneficial.

    You align your forces slightly differently, reducing the cost to your own forces in lives and material. You sink more submarines, save a convoy, you turn the tide in close-fought battles saving more men, or they become "easy" battles. You get confirmation that your tactic is working. The effect is immeasurable, but definite.

    When you capture, kill or turn every spy sent to Britain by Germany for the duration of the War, you can't claim it was unimportant.

    The most important aspect was, that the Germans never seriously thought their devices had been compromised.
     
    macrusk, belasar and von Poop like this.
  16. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,587
    Likes Received:
    299
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    ROLF or should I say ROFLMAO!!!!

    That is as convincing as an interview with Speer.
     
  17. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    4,997
    Likes Received:
    236
    The whole story of Ultra deciding the outcome of the battle of Kursk is pure chauvinism and superiority feeling : it is impossible that these primitive ,etc, Soviets could be good in something as sophisticated as sigint : this is reserved for intelligent people as us : it was one of us (a traitor,but still one of us) who gave them the needed informations to defeat the Germans .

    The Rosenberg story is the same : the stupid Soviets could not produce the bomb, one of us (a traitor) must have helped them .

    It was the same with the story of the Christie vehicles and the US LL trucks who were of course much better than what these primitive Mongols could produce .

    Besides : the Soviets did not win the battle of Kursk because of informations : they were that strong that they did not need tthe informations .
     
    Tamino likes this.
  18. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,587
    Likes Received:
    299
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    Alan Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts. He accepted chemical castration as an alternative to prison.

    Does anyone know in what primitive country Alan Turing lived? In Nazi Germany he would have got more lenient treatment for that "crime".
     
  19. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,690
    Likes Received:
    2,332
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    Life in a concentration camp, with a good chance of possible death is "more lenient treatment"?

    You certainly have an odd way of looking at things...
     
  20. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    2,587
    Likes Received:
    299
    Location:
    Untersteiermark
    As always, you go of-topic if the answer to the real question doesn't suit you. Now, please, tell me in which country a man was castrated just for being a homosexual.

    Let's get back now to the topic.

    There is a myth that the Germans never realized that their codes were broken. Donitz knew. Stalin knew too. Hitler never allowed his messages to be transmitted by the Enigma. Not a single message of the highest importance has ever been send via Enigma. And, no, it wasn't just Hitlers intuition.
     

Share This Page