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…I wondered whether codebreaking’s contribution to the war could be quantified. Would someone in a position to know say how many divisions it was worth, or how many months or years it shortened the war by? The literature showed a few such statements. They all dealt with the Pacific and said that codebreaking had saved a year of war — one high-level operations officer said two years [History of the Army Security Agency].The only comment about the European theater that I could get was Mr. Beesly’s, who to be nice to me guessed that codebreaking save nine months in the battle of the Atlantic. Most people declined to make this kind of an estimate. They thought it was impossible and probably meaningless. The most cogent remark came from someone who might have been expected to say quite the opposite. This was General W. Preston Cornerman, the wartime head of the Army codebreaking agency. “If you try to do that,” he said, “you’d have the quartermaster claiming so many years, the air force so many, and everybody claiming some, and before you know it you’d find that the war should have been over 25 years before it began.”
David Kahn. “The Significance of Codebreaking and Intelligence in Allied Strategy and Tactics.” from remarks delivered 1976 before the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, reprinted in Cryptology.
In the summer of 2015 I was contacted by an author interested in the stories of the Sugar Camp WAVES–one of my favorite topics. Now their story as well as that of the WACS at Arlington Hall is available and wonderfully successful.
“Code Girls is an extraordinary book by an extraordinary author. Liza Mundy’s portraits of World War II codebreakers are so skillfully and vividly drawn that I felt as if I were right there with them—mastering ciphers, outwitting the Japanese army, sinking ships, breaking hearts, and even accidentally insulting Eleanor Roosevelt. I am an evangelist for this book: You must read it.”
author of The Good Girls Revolt – Lynn Povich