Enigma Machine and Its U-boat Codes - THE CAPTURE OF U-505

THE CAPTURE OF U-505 (Illustration) Famous Historical Events Famous People Social Studies STEM World War II

This Department of Defense photo depicts the German submarine, U-505, after she was captured by Americans off the coast of western Africa. Note the flags which are flying above her conning tower.


Keeping his mission objective in mind, Captain Gallery ordered a boarding crew from the USS Pillsbury to make ready to board the 505. Germans were still aboard their extremely close-quarters vessel. Using "tommy guns" and hand grenades, the Americans cleared the ship of German sailors.

Descending through the conning tower, the boarding party learned the worst: Departing Germans had tried to scuttle their ship by opening one of the sea valves. 505 was taking on water. If the boarding crew did not quickly locate which valve was open, 505 would sink with her valuable code materials.

Ignoring the danger of booby traps, the crew had to work quickly. Reinforced with more men from the Guadalcanal, they repaired all leaks before they found their prize in 505's radio and sound room: an Enigma encoding machine plus a new, experimental machine. The Allies had what they needed to maintain naval supremacy. Surviving members of 505's crew, and their gear, were transferred to the Guadalcanal.

The 505 was towed (with the American colors flying above the flag of the Third Reich by the aircraft carrier Guadalcanal) to Port Royal Bay in Bermuda. (Don't miss this story about the capture written by Captain Gallery.) There she would be safe from German knowledge that the ship did not sink.

To make sure no one talked about the capture, Captain Gallery (Commander of Task Group 22.3) issued an order to "keep our mouths shut about it."

Like the 110, U-505 gave up what the Allies needed most - and their secrets remained hidden until well after the war. As late as 1980, Admiral Doenitz (chief commander of the German fleet and President after Hitler's death) did not believe Enigma had been compromised.

Today, U-505 is at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. (You can take a virtual tour of the ship by following this link.) Richard Cosby took this picture, in 1954, as the submarine was towed into the Chicago River.

The citizens of Chicago contributed $250,000 to save U-505 from destruction. She remains a permanent monument to the monument to the bravery (follow this link to read an eyewitness account) of the Americans who captured, raided and towed her 2,500 miles.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 01, 2001

Updated Last Revision: Jul 09, 2019

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"THE CAPTURE OF U-505" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 01, 2001. Jan 25, 2020.
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