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Espionage was vital in the war effort of both the allied and axis powers during World War II. Espionage can take many different forms. Deception, leaking of false information, coding and encryption of information, sabotage, and sending spies in to gather intelligence are all were all used during the war and were all effective. Many of the turning points for the allied forces occurred due to various forms of espionage and deception. Depending on which side of the fence you're sitting on, espionage was either a blessing or a curse.
Coding and encryption were two very important elements in the use of espionage. Enigmas were cipher machines that were based mainly on a wired code wheel. The wired code wheel, known more commonly as a rotor, would be shaped similar to a hockey puck made of non-conductive material, such as rubber, and have two sides, an input plate and an output plate and around the circumference are 26 evenly spaced electrical contacts. The 26 contacts on the input plate would be connected by wired through the body of the rotor to the 26 contacts on the output plate. An alphabet ring would then be placed around the rotors 26 contacts therefore creating a cipher alphabet.
The sender would type the message in plaintext (not encrypted) and the letters would be illuminated on a glass screen. With the press of each typewriter key the rotor would shift 1/26 of a revolution giving each letter a different encryption each time, which made the code so difficult to crack. Due to the complexity of the code the enigma became very useful for the Germans for radioing messages to u-boats. The cipher was finally broken when the British were able to capture some key documents from a German warship.
Navajo code talking became an extremely useful tool in the Marines war effort. In the beginning of the war Philip Johnston came forth and suggested an unbreakable code to the marines; that code was Navajo. Philip Johnston, WWI veteran, son of a missionary to the Navajos, who spoke the language fluently, suggested that it met all of the requirements. It was useful because it was an extremely complex unwritten language mostly spoken by the Navajos of the southwest and very few others. The marines enlisted 540 Navajos, of which an estimated 375-420 became code talkers, and the rest in other capacities. Navajo code talking took part in all of the marine's assaults from 1942-45. Throughout the war the Japanese were able to crack the codes of the United States Army and Air Force, but they could never crack the marine's code.
The turning point in the war in the Pacific for the U.S. was the battle at Midway. This was largely due to the American success at breaking a challenging Japanese code known as PURPLE. The US Navy acquired a copy of the machine that the Japanese used to create the PURPLE encryption, code-named magic. This enabled the Americans to decipher Japanese codes.
Within the Japanese messages was a reference to "AF", which the Americans believed meant Midway. To confirm this the Americans created a false communication in a code which they knew the Japanese had previously broken. This deceptive message stated that Midway was running out of fresh water. Sure enough, the Japanese intercepted the message and broadcast to their fleet that AF was out of water. Assured that the US intelligence was accurately reading the Japanese code, Admiral Minitz was able to anticipate and overpower the Japanese attack on Midway.
False invasions were used commonly during the war and were also a valued form of espionage. At the Teheran conference in November 1943, the "Big Three" Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin approved an outline of deception operations for the D-Day invasion of Europe. The allies renamed this plan Bodyguard 1. Bodyguard 1 came in 5 main deceptions: Vendetta, Ferdinand, Ironside, Zeppelin, and most importantly Fortitude. Fortitude consisted of fortitude north and south; fortitude south was the key deception, which was the invasion at the Pas de Calais, and fortitude north which was the actual D-day invasion. The use of double agents can be seen most effectively here as was by the agent "Garbo". Garbo influenced German thinking from officials as high as Hitler himself. Fortitude south was a huge success. Hitler was so afraid of the invasion of the Pas de Calias that he kept the main concentration of his forces there leaving the beaches at Normandy mostly wide open.
Operation Mincemeat was a prime example of deception by intentionally leaking false information. The campaign in North Africa was coming to a successful conclusion for the allies and it was widely agreed upon that the next point to invade would be Sicily because it would be a good starting point for invading the rest of Europe. Gen. Ewen Montague and his team devised the plan to plant a dead body off the coast of Spain with a fake invasion plan. Montague and his team discovered a man around 30 who had died of pneumonia, which would be perfect because it would look like he died in the sea due to the fluid in his lungs. They created a fake identity for the body, Captain in acting Major William Martin.
In order to make him more realistic they gave him a picture of his sweetheart Pam with love letters and ticket stubs, overdue bill notices, a stern letter from his father, and a replacement naval I.D. for the one he had supposedly lost. Most importantly a letter between to high-ranking officials stating the plans for the fictitious invasion was planted on the body. The body was deployed off the Spanish coast and picked up by a fishing ship. They immediately reported the body to the German military intelligence. Hitler sent all of his forces to Sardania (the point that was supposed to be attacked in the letter). By the time they realized it was a trick it was too late and the allies had won the battle. It was the most effective deception of its time. The intentional leak of false information leaks of both of these battles lead to the overwhelming victory of the allied forces.
In Summation, espionage vital in the war effort of both the allies and the axis powers during World War II. Without different sorts of espionage the war would have taken much more manpower and would have been much harder to fight. Deception and code gave both sides strategic advantages through out the war.
David Gange "Codebreakers Through the Battle of Midway" 4/30/03 http://www.militaryhistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://raphael.math.uic.edu/%7Ejeremy/crypt/contrib/gange.html
Research by Alexander Molnar Jr., U.S. Marine Corps/U.S. Army (Ret.)Prepared by the Navy & Marine Corps WWII Commemorative Committee "Navajo Code Talkers: WWII Fact Sheet" 4/30/03 http://www.militaryhistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.history.na vy.mil/faqs/faq61%2D2.htm
Rina Mody "The Enigma Machine" 4/23/03 http://www.militaryhistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://raphael.math.uic.edu/%7Ejeremy/crypt/contrib/mody.html
Major Richard G Ricklefs "Fortitude South" http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/army/tradoc/usaic/mipb/1996-2/meeks.htm
"Midway, Battle of," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2003
Prange, Gordon W., Miracle at Midway, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1982
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"Espionage During Wwii." 123HelpMe.com. 30 Sep 2014