Seventy years ago today, Commonwealth forces landed and attempted a raid against the German-held city of Dieppe on the coast of France. It was a disaster, with the land forces--prmarily elements of the Canadian Second Division--suffering about 60% casualties. None of the stated objetives were achieved.
The raid has been the subject of controversy since it first hit the news in August, 1942. In his monumental history of World War Two, Churchill gives a variety of reasons for the raid, largely saying it was to appease Joe Stalin. Historians and military scholars have never seemed to believe him, and several theories have been advanced. One Canadian historian has claimed it was a raid, like the successful raid carried out at St. Nazaire almost five months earlier, with the objective of destroying the radar facilities behind the town, and grabbing equipment there for military intelligence.
This morning i heard an excellent interview on CBC with an historian who says he has spent the last 15 years researching the raid, and using documents released under freedom of information laws. He says that it was an elaborate "snatch raid" on German naval headquarters to get one of the new four rotor enigma encoding machines--and that that objective was also not achieved. He says it was one of Ian Fleming's schemes. For those who don't know it, Fleming was more than just the creator of James Bond, he was also a career naval intelligence officer. According to this gentleman, the purpose was to get one of the new enigma encrypting machines. The earlier versions had three rotors. and one of them had been snatched in a brilliant operation of Polish intelligence in 1932. They presented their materials to their allies just before the war, and that provided the genesis of the enigma decrypting operation at Bletchley Park, code named Ultra.
So far, i have only been able to find defective links to the story, so i won't post them here. If i come up with a reliable link, i'll post it.
Yes, in 1941 they changed from the Enigma M3 (with three rotors) to the Enigma M4 (with four).
Three members of the British destroyer HMS Petard seized the second edition of the Wetterkurzschlüssel (weather code book) from U-559 on 30 October 1942, before it sank near Port Said. And afterwards it was an easy task for Bletchley ...
Fri 17 Aug, 2012 11:08 am
The code breakers are fascinating. However, never assume that complacency and stupidity cannot triumph. Before December, 1941, the United States had broken the Japanese diplomatic code, and the encoding architecture for the Imperial Navy. (That meant that when the code was changed every three months, they had to break the code all over again, but they knew how the code was structured, and could usually break the new code in three or four weeks.)
Nevertheless, Admiral KImmel and General Short in Hawaii, and General MacArthur in Manila completely failed to accurately assess the implications of the intelligence they were being provided. None of these officers were cleared to know about Imperial Navy codes having been broken, but even low level naval intelligence officers considered it an "open secret" just because of the detail and quality of intelligence being provided by ONI. At the same time that the quarterly change in naval code was made in July, 1941, Japan's five heavy carriers were moved to a new anchorage in the Inland Sea (they had already been operating there for the training missions being flown by pilots who would participate in the attack on Hawaii). Yamamoto decreed that no mention of the carriers was allowed in radio or cable messages. So, effectively, from the point of view of ONI, the heavy carriers disappeared. Zuikaku, which was commissioned in September, 1941, disappeared in the same manner. Apparently, this did not raise any red flags either in ONI or in Kimmel's CINCPAC staff.
The Imperial Navy changed its codes every quarter. So, at the beginning of October, 1941, they changed their code. ONI had just borken the code when it was changed again at the beginning of November, 1941. No arlarm bells went off. Even after that code was broken, no mention of the six heavy carriers appeared in any radio or cable traffic. HELLO ! ! ! is anybody awake in there ? ! ? ! ?
The biggest scandal, of course, is that the war warning message was sent to all officers of general or flag rank in the Pacific on November 24, 1941. They did nothing, except for General Short. He had a paranoid obsession with fifth columnists, so he had the fighter planes pushed to the centers of the airfields, as far from the fences as possible, and had the anti-aircraft ammunition locked up. MacArthur was the worst of all. Even after he knew about the attack on Hawaii, he left his aircraft on the airfields, and made no attempt to find and intercept any possible Japanese air attack.
Stupidity trumps intelligence every time.
Sat 18 Aug, 2012 01:31 am
I heard a repeat of the radio program on Dieppe last evening, and caught the name of military historian--David O'Keefe. Here is a link to the CBC radio program's web page on this topic. One thing i found interesting when i heard it again: apparently, Ian Fleming was just about a half mile offshore, on board a ship which had helped to land the troops. When the team assaulting German naval headquarters had gotten what they were after, they were to return to the beach, and be taken out to the ship on which Fleming waited, and then be taken directly to the nearest English port. However, of course, that team failed of its objective just as every other objective was failed in the attempt.
I always think of Ian Fleming as the originator of this.
Sat 18 Aug, 2012 03:24 am
Every time i attempt to open one of those Global News links, my box crashes. That's why i didn't link the story at that source to being with. I'm not sufficiently savvy technically to understand why that happens, but i will no longer attempt to open the link.