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Enigma Machine and Its U-boat Codes - Summary

Learn the true story of the Enigma Machine, a U-boat code device which Germany’s WWII leadership hopes is unbreakable.  Meet the men of a British destroyer (called Bulldog), its sub-lieutenant (David Balme) and Fritz-Julius Lemp (commanding officer of U-110).

The Enigma device is a communication machine developed by a German businessman named Arthur Scherbius. Once the Nazis realize this device can send coded messages, which are almost impossible to decipher, they appropriate it for military use aboard their U-boats (submarines).

With this coding system, U-boats are able to successfully track and destroy Allied supply ships. U-boats are cramped, noisy and alternately freezing cold and extremely hot. They must surface periodically and the potential of dying on one is very high for the men who serve aboard these vessels.

During a May 1941 mission, Lemp (who is aboard U-110) leaves his periscope up long-enough for the HMS Aubretia and her captain to spot the submarine. After dropping depth charges to damage the vessel, Captain Baker-Creswell sends David Balme and a boarding party to see what they can find on the U-boat.

Balme discovers a working Enigma Machine and the selected code sequence for the following month. The machine is sent to Bletchley Park where mathematical geniuses are trying to break the German code. Alan Turing and his Bletchley Park team want to build a decoder, but first they have to figure out how the Enigma Machine works.

It is not until after U-559’s sinking, in October of 1941, that the Enigma code is finally broken.  Three young British sailors risk their lives to recover code books from that sinking vessel.  Two of those heroes die in the process.

About ten months before the end of the war in Europe, the Americans manage to capture U-505 off the coast of French West Africa. This boat remains on view today at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Watch an animation of a U-boat striking a ship. Take a virtual tour of U-505 and see a real Enigma Machine.  Follow links to send messages from a virtual Enigma Machine.  Look at maps to see where U-boats attack supply ships, and read reports on U-boats which are sunk.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Enigma Machine and Its U-boat Codes" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 01, 2001. Oct 19, 2017.
       <https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Enigma-Machine-and-Its-U-boat-Codes/Summary>.
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