World War II


Bo - Bz

Bonsall, Arthur [Sir]. "Bletchley Park and the RAF Y Service: Some Recollections." Intelligence and National Security 23, no. 6 (Dec. 2008): 827-841.

The author served in Air Section of GC&CS from 1940 until the end of the war. He then served in GCHQ until his retirement in 1978. He was Director of GCHQ for 5 years. "About the Contributors," I&NS 23.6.

Here, the author notes that the UK "Air Ministry planned successfully for current exploitation" of German Air Force (GAF) radio communications, "but failed to realize that after the event exploitation could also produce useful intelligence. GC&CS also failed at first but later engaged in it successfully." In the end, "not only did the Air Section's support of the Y units improve but its output became an authoritative source of intelligence about GAF operations and tactics."

Breitman, Richard. Official Secrets: What the Nazis Planned, What the British and Americans Knew. New York: Hill and Wang, 1998. London: Penguin, 2000. [pb]

According to Michael Smith, "Bletchley Park and the Holocaust," Intelligence and National Security 19, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 262-274, this work "claims that British codebreakers knew Nazi police operating behind the German troops invading the Soviet Union were murdering thousands of Jews but that they and the British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who read the messages, did nothing about it." Smith disagrees with Breitman's interpretation and declares that "both the Bletchley Park code breakers and Churchill are innocent of the charges laid against them."

Media stories based on Breitman's book include: James Bone and Michael Binyon, "Britain Accused of Hiding Facts on Holocaust," Times (London), 15 Oct. 1998; Dominic Donald, "Should Churchill Have Acted?" Times (London), 15 Oct. 1998; and Hugo Gordon, "MI6 'Concealed Extermination of Jews for a Year,'" Telegraph (London), 15 Oct. 1998.

Briggs, Asa. Secret Days: Code-breaking in Bletchley Park. London: Frontline, 2011.

Christensen, Cryptologia 36.2 (Apr. 2011), notes that the author "was a codebreaker in Bletchley Park's Hut 6 (German Army and Air Force Enigma)." There are "no surprises" here and the book is not about the details of breaking Enigma. It us a book "about people and work and BP life."

Brunt, Rodney M. "Special Documentation Systems at the Government Code and Cypher School, Bletchley Park, during the Second World War." Intelligence and National Security 21, no. 1 (Feb. 2006): 129-148.

This article "describes the work of two specialist units, serving Hut 3 (Air and Military intelligence) and Hut 4 (Naval intelligence), engaged in the creation and maintenance" of "highly specialized devices which facilitated the translation and analysis of decrypted messages."

Budiansky, Stephen. Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II. New York: Free Press, 2000. London: Viking, 2000.

For Alvarez, Intelligencer 12.1, this is "the best survey to date of the role of communications intelligence in the defeat of the Axis in World War II. It is a great story with enough colorful characters and dramatic moments to fill a dozen thrillers.... Battle of Wits, however, moves beyond good anecdotes and great victories to make important contributions to our understanding of the role of wartime communications intelligence....

"Perhaps the author's greatest contribution is to add a powerful voice to the small but growing chorus challenging the 'Ultra Myth'.... The breathless discussion of Ultra and Magic ... often obscures the fact that communications intelligence was only one of several sources that informed (or misinformed) decision-makers during the war.... Engagingly written and carefully researched, Battle of Wits will become the standard survey of Anglo-American codebreaking in World War II."

Although not ready to grant the completeness claimed in the title, Baker, Proceedings 127.2 (Feb. 2001), finds that this is an "exceptionally well-written and easily accessible ... introduction to an extraordinarily complex and broad topic." The book has "several very useful appendices," and the bibliography "shows extensive research in primary sources."

Johnson, Intelligencer 11.2, finds that while this work is hardly "complete," it is "new, fresh, [and] up to date on all the latest scholarship.... Despite ... omissions on the operational front, Budiansky's book represents a successful attempt at one-stop shopping." To Kruh, Cryptologia 25.1, this is "the best account to date on WWII codebreaking.... Budiansky also offers an incisive analysis of the differences in the Army, Navy, and Bletchley Park codebreaking organizations."

Noting that while "[t]his work is comprehensive and thorough," Winn, Parameters 31 (Winter 2001-2002), adds that "[o]nly time will tell if [Budiansky's] story is 'complete' in the absolute sense of the word." The author "provides an excellent summary of the key role" the breaking of the Japanese Fleet Code in March 1942 "played in the Battle of Midway in June 1942."

Bath, NIPQ 17.2, praises the author for producing "a history that is both interesting and technically sound.." Although "there is little that is new or startling in this account,... all that has gone before ... has been carefully researched and distilled into one comprehensive account." Hanyok, I&NS 16.3, gives Budiansky's technical descriptions high marks for clarity. However, completeness is lacking in that the author "spends little time on the Axis cryptanalytic efforts.... Sometimes, too, Budiansky's criterion for inclusion of material is curious."

For Gonnerman, JIH 1.2, "the book is well written and the author has an engaging style.... However, Budiansky is a mathematician and he devotes entire chapters to explaining the mathematics behind codebreaking and the engineering behind the machines. A predisposition to math would serve the reader well in order to fully appreciate these sections."

Budiansky, Stephen.

1. "Colossus, Codebreaking, and the Digital Age." In Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park's Codebreaking Computers, ed. B. Jack Copeland, 52-63. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

2. "The Difficult Beginnings of US-British Codebreaking Cooperation." Intelligence and National Security 15, no. 2 (Summer 2000): 49-73. "The Difficult Beginnings of US-British Codebreaking Cooperation." In American-British-Canadian Intelligence Relations 1939-2000, eds.David Stafford and Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones. London: Frank Cass, 2000.

From abstract: "Recently declassified files in Britain and the United States reveal the often bitter mutual suspicions that roiled the codebreaking bureaux of the two nations as they began to cooperate during World War II.... In the evolving British-American relationship, differences between the US Army and Navy were skillfully exploited on both sides of the Atlantic."

Bundy, William P.

Bundy commanded the U.S. Signal Corps contingent at Bletchley Park.

1. "From the Depths to the Heights." Cryptologia 6, no. 1 (Jan. 1982): 65-74.

Petersen: "Review of several important books on Ultra."

2. "Some of My Wartime Experiences." Cryptologia 11, no. 2 (Apr. 1987): 65-77.

Burke, Colin. "From the Archives: A Lady Codebreaker Speaks: Joan Murray, the Bombes and the Perils of Writing Crypto-History from Participants' Accounts." Cryptologia 34, no. 4 (Oct. 2010): 359-370.

From Abstract: "A declassified 1970s article by Joan Murray ... gives some new insights into the battle against U-boat Enigma. As important, the article shows the [difficulties] in using a participant's memories as final evidence."

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[1. Photo of Enigma machine from: https://www.cia.gov/cia/information/artifacts/enigma.htm]