UNITED KINGDOM

World War II

Ultra

Li - N

Liliental, Witold K. "The Truth about Enigma Finally Surfaces." Everyone's War 2 (2000): 40-42.

From Royal Historical Society Database: "The Poles' pioneering role in breaking the German code."

Macksey, Kenneth. The Searchers: Radio Intercept in Two World Wars. London: Cassell, 2003. New ed. London: Cassell, 2004.

From publisher: This "history of radio intercepting answers the question of how enemy messages are detected in the first place. The focus is on the early war-shortening Y and Radio Intercept Services, and their brilliantly clever inventors and technologists who proved to be unsung heroes with headphones clamped to their ears."

Macksey, Kenneth. Without Enigma: The Ultra and Fellgiebel Riddles. Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allen, 2000.

According to Erskine, I&NS 17.2, this work combines "counter-factual history" (what would have happened without the take from Enigma) with a recounting of "the wartime career of General Erich Fellgiebel ... and his part in the 20 July 1944 assassination plot against Hitler." The author "gets too many aspects of ciphers and cipher machines wrong." Regrettably, this work "does not illuminate Ultra, and its twin themes do not blend well." Kruh, Cryptologia 26.4, comments that the author "provides a realistic and logical scenario of what might have been, along with insights on Hitler's generals and the failed assassination attempt. It is an excellent, imaginative book."

Mayer, Stefan. The Breaking of the German Ciphering Machine "Enigma" by the Cryptological Section in the 2nd Department of the Polish Armed Forces General Staff. New York: Pilsudski Institute, 1974.

Nautical Brass Bibliography points out that while this work is "[p]rimarily of historical significance," it "may have been the first to point out that Polish contributions to breaking Enigma were vastly understated by Bertrand and Winterbotham."

McDonald, Gilman [CDR/USNR (Ret.)]. "About ULTRA: Fact and Fiction," Intelligencer 14, no. 2 (Winter-Spring 2005): 113-117 (with editorial additions, 117-120).

The author argues that the term ULTRA was simply a security classification or label applied to the U.S. Top Secret or, for the British, the step above Most Secret.

McKay, Craig Graham. "German Teleprinter Traffic and Swedish Wartime Intelligence." In Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park's Codebreaking Computers, eds. B. Jack Copeland, et al., 328-336. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

McKay, Sinclair. The Secret Life of Bletchley Park: The History of the Wartime Codebreaking Centre by the Men and Women Who Were There. London: Aurum, 2010.

Mace, historytimes.com, 13 Jul. 2010, notes that the author focuses "more on the people that worked at Bletchley Park, rather than their well-known achievements or the technical complexities of the code-breaking work." This "is an interesting and amusing book, and a valuable addition to the printed material available on this secretive and absolutely vital wartime organisation." Christensen, Cryptologia 35.2 (Apr. 2011), finds little new here but appreciates that "a comprehensive view of life and work at Bletchley Park appears in one book and is told (mostly) by the codebreakers themselves."

For Lowe, Telegraph (London), 23 Jul. 2010, although "[t]here is nothing new about the story,... the book's saving grace is its ability to recreate the unique atmosphere of this extraordinary place.... Much of this is told in the words of veterans interviewed by the author, whose vivid descriptions evoke a world that is now all but lost. It is their stories, and the humbling thought of what their dedication to duty achieved, that make this book worth reading." King, NIPQ 27.2 (Jun. 2011), see this as "the best overall introduction to Bletchley Park as seen by those who participated in its work."

Walton, Daily Mail, 27 Jul. 2010, finds that the author "wisely avoids getting too technical." Although he takes a stab at explaining "how the German enigma machines worked, and how the Bletchley scientists outwitted them," McKay's explanations will probably "leave the average reader understanding little more than that the machines were very complicated, and the scientists very brilliant." This book may not "satisfy the scholars," but McKay succeeds "in honouring a genuinely remarkable group of people in a solid, often entertaining and above all warm-hearted way."

To Smith, I&NS 27.1 (Feb. 2012), this "popular history" might prove "useful and interesting" for those wishing "to gain an insight into the atmosphere of Bletchley Park." However, "the endnotes and referencing ... are perfunctory and as such wholly inadequate for a scholarly audience."

McKay, Sinclair. The Secret Listeners: How the Wartime Y Service Intercepted the Secret German Codes for Bletchley Park. London: Aurum, 2012.

Peake, Studies 57.2 (Jun. 2013), and Intelligencer 20.1 (Spring-Summer 2013), says this work "doesn’t dwell on the operational side of the Y Service activities. Instead, McKay describes the personnel involved and their selection criteria, their often unrelentingly tedious working conditions, and some of the clever techniques they employed.... [This] is a story too long untold, and it is a valuable contribution to the intelligence literature."

Michie, Donald.

1. "Codebreaking and Colossus." In Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park's Codebreaking Computers, eds. B. Jack Copeland, et al., 223-248. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

2. "Colossus and the Breaking of the Wartime 'Fish' Codes." Cryptologia 26, no. 1 (Jan. 2002): 17-58.

From Abstract: The author "describes his three-year experience as a founder member of the 'Teastery' and "Newmanry' teams. Their combined use of innovative methods and machines led from the breaking of the German Lorenz military traffic to its large-scale daily decipherment."

Miller, A. Ray. The Cryptographic Mathematics of Enigma. Ft. George G. Meade, MD: National Security Agency, Center for Cryptologic History, 2001.

Milner-Barry, P.S. "'Action This Day': The Letter from Bletchley Park Cryptanalysts to the Prime Minister, 21 October 1941." Intelligence and National Security 1, no. 2 (May 1986): 272-276.

The author shares his memories of the circumstances surrounding a letter sent by himself, Welchman, Turing, and Alexander to Churchill in an effort to break some administrative bottlenecks in their work. It worked! Witness Churchill's response: "Action This Day." The article includes as an appendix the text of the letter.

Morris, Christopher. "Ultra's Poor Relations." Intelligence and National Security 1, no. 1 (Jan. 1986): 111-122.

This article deals with work, in which the author participated, on Kriegsmarine hand ciphers at Hut 4 at Bletchley Park during World War II.

Murray, Williamson.

1. Strategy for Defeat: The Luftwaffe, 1933-1945. Washington, DC: GPO, 1983.

Sexton notes that the author "illuminates the relationship of ULTRA to the strategic air offensive..., as well as discussing air operations in Normandy and the Mediterranean." The main themes of this book are summarized in Murray's "Ultra: Some Thoughts on Its Impact on the Second World War," Air University Review 35 (Jul.-Aug. 1984), 52-64.

2. "Ultra: Some Thoughts on Its Impact on the Second World War." Air University Review 35 (Jul.-Aug. 1984): 52-64. [http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usamhi/ RefBibs/intell/ww2/ultra.htm]

3. "World War II: Ultra -- The Misunderstood Allied Secret Weapon." MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, Spring 2002. [http://www.historynet.com/magazines/mhq/3033696.html]

"While historians and military analysts tell us that the Germans were extraordinarily proficient in the operational and tactical spheres, we should also recognize that the Germans were incredibly sloppy and careless in the fields of intelligence, communications, and logistics, and consistently (and ironically) held their opponents in contempt in those fields.... [T]he German defeat in World War II suggests that to underestimate the capabilities and intelligence of one's enemies is to suffer dangerous and damaging consequences to one's own forces."

Nautical Brass On-Line. "Codebreaking and Secret Weapons in World War II." [http://home.earthlink.net/~nbrass1/enigma.htm]

"These articles are part of a ten-part series on codebreaking (Enigma, 'Purple', 'Magic', and the large part cryptography played in World War II) and the secret weapons of Allies and Axis (V1, V2, A-bomb, radar, etc.). The series of articles originally appeared in Nautical Brass magazine, now no longer in print, but on the Web as Nautical Brass On-Line." Includes "Annotated Bibliography. 120 references, including Enigma simulators, Web sites, movies, video tapes, books and articles. (17K)"

Nesbit, Roy Conyers. Ultra Versus U-Boats: Enigma Decrypts in the National Archives. Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword Military, 2008.

Christensen, Cryptologia 33.4 (Oct. 2009), comments that the material the author "has gathered is interesting - though quite repetitious.... He has selected about 200 decrypts [from the National Archives], added about 200 photographs, and arranged them chronologically.... The text is a short history of the battle against the U-boats. Codebreaking is only briefly mentioned, and what is said ... is not always correct." To Peake, Studies 55.1 (Mar. 2011), this work "is a fine contribution to WWII naval history."

Newman, William. "Max Newman -- Mathematician, Codebreaker, and Computer Pioneer." In Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park's Codebreaking Computers, eds. B. Jack Copeland, et al., 176-188. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Niestlé, Axel. "The Role of Ultra in the Assessment of German U-boat Losses." World War II Quarterly 5, no. 3 (2008): 41-45. 

Noskwith, Rolf. "Hut 8 from the Inside." In Action This Day: Bletchley Park from the Breaking of the Enigma Code to the Birth of the Modern Computer, eds. Ralph Erskine and Michael Smith, 197-210, 488. London and New York: Bantam, 2001.

NOVA. Decoding Nazi Secrets. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/decoding.

For Kruh, Cryptologia 24.2, this 2-hour NOVA special "is one of the best television programs produced on code breaking." There is a major omission, however: Gordon Welchman deserves at least a mention.

Return to Ultra Table of Contents