Tony Wilson


There can be little doubt that the German “Enigma” was the best and safest mechanical cipher machine available in any country at the outbreak of the Second World War. Its general use by all three services of the German armed forces presented the Allies with a very serious impediment to their efforts to read the German military message traffic and a great deal of time and effort was expended in attempts to devise a rapid and accurate method of deciphering it.

That these efforts were in the end successful, was due in the main to the work of a dedicated team of scientists and academics based at the Bletchley Park facility north of London, England, and the stablishment of the “Ultra” intelligence gathering and distribution operation that worked so well for the Allies throughout the most crucial parts of the conflict.

The author’s interest in the Enigma began when working as a volunteer communications specialist at the Canadian War Museum. Two Enigma machines were discovered stored with the radio and other electronic equipment at the Vimy Ridge storage facility. Further investigation of these machines found that one was the three-cipher-cylinder Type “A.” It was even found to be in operating condition, being essentially complete with three of its five cipher cylinders in place.

The other machine was a four-cylinder Type “M.” It was in generally good condition, but lacked most of its cipher cylinders. It currently forms part of a Naval display at the Canadian War Museum on Sussex Drive in Ottawa, Ontario.