Notes & Sources

For students of WW2 Cryptologic History

The following  are a few books that discuss the story of the Enigma and the problems it posed for the US Navy. Of course The Secret in Bldg. 26 specifically discussed Dayton’s role. However when I need to refresh my knowledge of the Enigma and how Turing attacked it I go to The Battle of Wits, listed below. In addition, I just reread David Kahn’s Seizing the Enigma and I found it very helpful. It pre-dates the declassification of Dayton’s role but the book is readable and packed with necessary background information which helps explain why Dayton was important.

I recommend Code Girls for many reasons. Sugar Camp is relegated to one chapter but the book as a whole conveys the atmosphere around the codebreakers as the war progressed. It’s very well written and does a great job of inserting the reader into the urgency of the work, the dedication of the entire team of cryptologists and the sacrifices it demanded of all. And when the reader finishes the book they’ll have bragging rights for having read a best seller.

Links to relevant information in print and on the web

BOOKS: The amount of information related to World War II and the use of Communications Intelligence, both online and in print, is staggering and continuing to grow. Below is a list of books and other sources which I’m currently reading, have read or use frequently as valuable references. They are of varying levels of detail and depth.

  • The Secret in Building 26. Written by Colin Burke and reporter Jim DeBrosse, formerly of the Dayton Daily News, published by Random House, was released in 2004. It is, to date, the only in depth look at the work done in Dayton. A good read. Veterans of the project give it very high reviews.
  • Information and Secrecy: Vannevar Bush, Ultra, and the Other Memex . Colin Burke. 1994. The Scarecrow Press, Inc.This book has been the only other book, to my knowledge that contains detailed information about the work in Dayton.
  • Released in 2013: It Wasn’t All Magic , a declassified report authored by Colin Burke. Based on his research while scholar in residence at the NSA Cryptologic History Center. Also found at NSA Special Research History series: It Wasn’t All Magic; the Early Struggle to Automate Cryptanalysis, 1930s-1960s:  Analysis of early Machine Cryptography, 2002. It loads a little more quickly  here.
  • A number of excellent booklets, including Solving the Enigma: History of the Cryptanalytic Bombe by Jennifer Wilcox, Asst. Curator of the NSA Cryptologic Museum, are now online.Consult the Index to NSA Cryptologic History publications related to the WW2 era.
  • Battle of Wits: the Complete Story of Codebreakiing in World War II . Stephen Budiansky. 2000. Simon and Schuster. My go-to book for reliable information.
  • Seizing the Enigma. The Race to Break the German U-Boat Codes, 1939-1943 . David Kahn. 1991. Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • The Battle of the Atlantic and Signals Intelligence. U-Boat Tracking Papers, 1941-1947 . ed. David Syrett. 2002. The Navy Records Society. A recounting of the U-Boat war beginning 1941, through the Allied reports, with a good introduction by the editor.
  • About the diplomacy and communications leading to Allied cooperation: The Ultra Americans: The U.S. Role in Breaking the Nazi Codes. Thomas Parrish. 1986. Stein and Day.
  • Diplomacy behind the scenes: The Ultra-Magic Deals and the Most Secret Special Relationship 1940-1946.Bradley F. Smith. 1992. Presidio Press.
  • Cryptology: Machines, History & Methods.  Cipher Devours, David Kahn, Louis Kruh, Greg Mellen, and Brian Winkel. Cryptologic. Artech House. 1989. A good anthology containing common sense analysis of the importance of communications intelligence.

SITES: The Information Age and the Cryptanalytic Bombe

The role of cryptology in American history

  • The place of machine cryptanalysis in modern information technology is discussed in Creating the Computer; Government, Industry and High Technology. Kenneth Flamm, The Brookings Institution, 1988.

Modern Cryptography, Logic and Electronics

  • Coding Theory and Cryptography; From Enigma and Geheimschreiber to Quantum Theory . ed. David Joyner. 2000. Springer.

Curious about tube technology?

Cryptologic History, Intelligence in Warfare

Background information about the Medal for Merit

The pioneering work of the British at Bletchley Park, and Bletchley’s relationship with the US

Information about the ground-breaking work on cracking the Enigma accomplished by Polish cryptanalysts early in the War

Would you like to learn more about codes and ciphers, encrypt a message

More about methods of Enigma decryption

  • The home page  of a host of web sites (somewhat technical) by Jerry Proc, of Ontario Canada. Links to topics include Crypto Machines, the Enigma, Radio Stories, and Sonar, Radar and IFF Systems.
  • The Dutch Crypto Museum, a virtual museum sponsored in the Netherlands. Included is a list of Enigma simulators available for different operating systems (Windows, Perl, etc.)

Good sources for WW2 information

  • You are here >

    Home > In Brief > Notes & Sources
  • Search

  • Sources

    This site has material from many sources. Some are use by permission. Before using, ASK. More specific information here.
  • Dayton Codebreakers DVDs

    DVDs are available locally. The Museum Store at Carillon Park is open once again and keeps the DVD in stock. Also re-opening is the book store at the Wright Dunbar Interpretive Center, West Third Street. Those who are not local can reach me at this link
  • Inside You’ll Find…

    WHO worked during the war? Find the Personnel section. Also, Joseph R. Desch
    WHAT were their goals? By the Numbers. Also, The US Bombe
    WHY? History of the Bombe Project A contemporary account of the reasons and the plans for their project for the Director of Naval Communications, 1944.
    WHERE was the project: In Dayton, it was in Building 26. In Washington, it was housed at the Naval Communications Annex