Well, we’re putting the closing touches on yet another weekend. I took a half day off on Friday, which lengthened things out a bit, but weekends always seem too short. There is a ton of stuff to do, and such a short time to get it done. Therefore, should I be elected President, I will mandate a two-day work week and a five-day weekend.
In the meantime, let’s head out for a little action on the high seas, shall we?
We talked last fall about the movie U-571 and how it more closely resembled the exploits of another submarine…U-559. That sub was damaged by the British and, just before it was sunk, they were able to grab some really important encryption information. You can read the piece if you want the detail.
But it wasn’t the only time this type of incident happened. After all, the Germans (like the Japanese and the U.S. and most countries fighting in the Second World War) used numerous coding systems. The army had one, the navy might have another, the maybe the air force a third. The Germans used various Enigma machines for their different coding systems, so the object was to capture as many of these machines as possible in an attempt to break as many of the various codes.
So along with the actual “guns and ammo” fighting, there was this 2nd-tier war to capture the other guy’s codes. On May 9, 1940 (as the German army was preparing to invade France and the Low Countries), the German submarine U-110 was (briefly) captured by the British. She was attacking a convoy and was damaged by depth charges and forced to surface. The destroyer HMS Bulldog, realizing she had a chance to capture the sub, pulled along side. The sub’s captain, believing his boat was sinking, ordered everyone out and didn’t bother destroying the Enigma machine nor its codebooks.
Of course, the sub didn’t sink right away, and the British were able to grab the prizes and even succeeded in towing U-110 for a while before she finally sank. And while this particular capture didn’t result in the major score such as SHARK or TRITON, it did provide valuable information to the codebreakers at Bletchley Park.
As I mentioned, this took place the day before the German assault on France. Tomorrow, we’ll look at one particular event from that massive invasion.