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  • Declassified, after 66 Years

    Posted by David Foster on January 29th, 2012 (All posts by )

    Mavis Batey, a WWII codebreaker, was presented by the British intelligence agency GCHQ with a document (“the history of Abwehr codebreaking”) that she co-authored in 1945 and that has only now been declassified. One of the other authors was her late husband Keith, but the information was considered so secret, and was so compartmentalized, that she had not previously read or even been aware of his contributions to the document.

    I’ve previously written about Mavis Batey (née Mavis Lever) in my post the bombe runs again. Her realization that a certain enciphered message did not contain a single occurrence of the letter “L” led to the breaking of the message, the setting of a trap for the Italian fleet at Cape Matapan, and the sinking of four enemy ships.


    3 Responses to “Declassified, after 66 Years”

    1. Lexington Green Says:

      David, do you know if the actual report available online? I saw no reference or link in the material you cited.

    2. David Foster Says:

      LG…I didn’t see a link to the actual report either in the article or in superficial searching.

      It would be interesting to know if it was kept classified so long because it sheds light on some subtle aspect of cryptography or because it was simply forgotten….

    3. Bill Brandt Says:

      The story of the breaking of the Enigma is quite a story. Mathematicians essentially “reverse engineered” the thing. And I wonder about the secrets Wilhelm Canaris held (executed by the Nazis late in the war).

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