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'Ultra' was made possible because of help from Poland. The Poles
handed a replica of the Enigma to Bletchley Park in August 1939.
Without it breaking the code would have been almost impossible.
In January 1940 Alan Turing became convinced that the Poles had
misinterpreted the workings of the Enigma and, after meeting them,
realized that he was correct. He then managed to crack the 'Green'
In February 1940 John Herivel thought of the idea of putting himself
in an operators mind to reduce the setting possibilities. This became
increasingly more useful to cracking the Enigma.
When Germanyinvaded Denmark and Norway in 1940 they used a new code;
'Yellow'. This was cracked in five days and as a result Station X was
able to supply large amounts of information to the armed forces. But
unfortunately the armed forces did not trust the source's reliability
because Bletchley Park was top secret and couldn't be spoken about, as
well as the armed forces not trusting information coming from
When Bletchley Park gave information to the Admiral's Operational
Intelligence Centre (OIC) in April 1940, it was ignored. As a result
Norway was invaded and Britain was caught unprepared, unable to help.
In late May, 1940, Station X warned the OIC about German Warships
possibly sailing into the Atlantic. The OIC ignored it and three
British ships with 1500 men were lost
In June- September 1940 although Bletchley Park was unable to become
an important park of the Battle of France or Britain, they could
provide important information like the number of German aircraft lost
in raids. The most important message decoded in September was that the
Germans had given up Operation Sealion, their attempt to invade
In 1941, Bletchley Park received reports from agents about operations
in the Mediterranean. The Italians were going to invade Yugoslaviawith
German forces backing them up. But more spectacularly, the Royal Navy
was able to take advantage of these reports and win the Battle of
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Bletchley Park also supplied information about the invasion of Crete,
including the date; 20 May 1941. Unfortunately British Forces were
forced to retreat, but for Station X it was a victory and showed what
it was capable of.
In May 1941 the German battle ship Bismarck had attempted to attack
British shipping in the North Atlantic. The Royal Navy sent forces to
intercept it, but when it came in contact with HMS Hood, it was
slightly damaged. Bletchley Park warned the admiralty that the
Bismarck must be heading for Brest because its messages were now being
sent t France. The Admiralty was not convinced until Station X cracked
the code and proved that they was correct, which led to 'Force H' from
Gibraltar to intercept and sink the Bismarck.
In 1941, the 'Dolphin' Naval code had been broken and the amount of
British convoys sunk dropped from 282,000 tonnes of shipping to
62,000, about 15 ships.
In January 1942, Bletchley Park was unable to read messages sent by
the German army in North Afrika. This resulted in British forces being
forced back in North Afrika, until Station X finally cracked the
German code. When German forces attempted to make a major breakthrough
at Alam Halfa, the British were waiting for them. Attacks were also
more successful, with 33% of shipping sunk in August and 45% in
October. In December 1942 mobile Y service stations were sent to
Morocco. The stations decoded German messages and warned the British
about German advances and artillery. The British subsequently beat the
Germans at Medenine.
Bletchley Park broke the 'Shark' code in December 1942 and in the
first five months of 1943 more than 100 U-boats were sank and in May
they were withdrawn from the Atlantic. In that month 47 U boats had
been sunk by the Allies. Ultra provided the information to locate
U-boats and destroy them.
In May, Station X discovered that Germans were expecting to land in
Normandy, but they thought that this was just a diversion from an
attack on Calais. Because of this information the Allies were able to
adapt their plans.
Ultra was able to provide information about the size and location of
almost all German units in Normandy, with fifty six out of fifty eight
being identified. This gave the Allies an advantage at D Day (6 June).
Although many messages sent by Germans in the weeks after the landings
were not read, Station X was able to give warnings of counter attacks
on 10 and 12 June. However, information from Station X was ignored
when 300,000 Germans were almost encircled in Normandy. This allowed
the Germans to escape.
After D Day the influence of Ultra became less important. Montgomery
ignored Station X information when he decided to launch Operation
Market Garden, the attempt to capture the bridge at Arnhem. It was a
disaster. Information was also provided about the Battle of Bulge, the
counter-attack by the Germans in December 1945, though this was not
the main reason for the defeat of German attack.
Ultra was a valuable source of information for the last 4 years of the
war. It became more detailed and consistent and its information
enabled Allied forces to survive attacks and avoid defeat. But battles
were by won by Allied commanders. Bletchley Park could only provide
information to plan tactics and strategy.