The History of Hut Eight

"The long and the short of it is Navy is not getting fair does. Nor is it likely to.

"It has been argued that a large number of bombes would cost a lot of money, a lot of skilled labour to make and a lot of labour to run, as well as more electric power than is at present available here. Well, the issue is a simple one. Tot up the difficulties and balance them against the value to the Nation of being able to read current Enigma."

By August 1941, when Hut 8 really started work on an operational basis, 6 bombes were available: by this time it appears that they were considered to have proved their worth and production went ahead steadily. Some idea of the increasing bombe capacity may be obtained from the following figures of the number of jobs run in each year:

1940     273
1941   1344
1942   4655
1943   9193
1944 15303

The running and maintenance of the machinery was in no respect the responsibility of Huts 6 and 3 but was under the control of Squadron Leader Jones who had working for him a team of technical experts from the R.A.F. and large numbers of Wrens (about 2,000 in all) to operate the machines. The bombe organization started in one Hut at B.P. and finished at 4 Out Stations organized and fed with menus from a central Station at B.P. The final organization was complex and highly efficient and we owe much to Squadron Leader Jones and his Section. At all times they gave every possible assistance with our problem and no labour was too much to ask of them: certainly no one in Hut 8 worked for lengths of time comparable to those worked frequently by the Bombe Hut mechanics.

The fact that the German Army, Navy and Air Force used the same cypher machine had the fortunate result that the bombes could he used by both Hut 6 and ourselves and it was a universally accepted principle that they were to be used in the most profitable way possible, irrespective of the Service or Section concerned. As Hut 6 had more keys to run than ourselves, the bombes were normally left in their hands and we applied for them as required. The relative priority of Hut 6 and Hut 8 keys in their claim for bombe time was decided at a weekly meeting between Hut 6, Hut 8, Naval Section and Hut 3; in very early days Commander Travis decided what use should be made of the few bombes then available.


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