The History of Hut Eight

These tubes were violently opposed on various grounds at first but when the permanent two way tube system had been introduced; they carried a terrific load and much toing and froing between Naval Section and ourselves was cut out. There were undoubted disadvantages in having to screw the messages up to put them into the containers but there can be no doubt that they saved us both time and trouble and that messages reached Naval Section much more quickly than before. A conveyer belt would certainly have been more satisfactory but, given the distance separating us from Naval Section (A15) was presumably out of the question.

The time taken for decodable traffic to pass through the Section varied appreciably with the degree of excitement caused by the war news. In early Second Front days some messages were arriving in Naval Section 20 minutes after being intercepted, but speeds of this sort could not be kept up indefinitely. The introduction of time stamping with the help of Stromberg time-clocks enabled us to make a regular check of the time it took for traffic to pass through the Hut and we were normally able to keep the average in the region of half an hour. This reflects, I think, great credit on all concerned as the work was tiring and, especially in the Decoding Room, noisy and at peak periods everyone had to work very fast indeed. In the week ending March 16th 1945 the record total of 19,902 messages were decoded, a remarkable feat for an average of perhaps 10 typists per shift.

This introduction has; I hope, supplied the necessary background on how the machine works and on how the traffic was received and dealt with. We can now turn to a more interesting subject and examine the history of the breaking of enigma from the earliest days.


< previous

next >