During the First World War, Room 40 (i.e., Office 40 or Part N° 40 ) was the discrete name given to the service of the British Admiralty in charge of the decoding of the enemy codes ( NID25 ).
In October 1914, the admiral Oliver, Directeur of the Naval Information (Naval Intelligence) gives coded messages, intercepted German radio station of Nauen, close to Berlin, in Alfred Ewing. This one, " Director off Naval Education" , and whose leisures were partly occupied by the manufacture of secret codes, will recruit civil personnel for this work of decoding. Among recruited people, one will find William Montgomery, translator of theological texts German and Nigel de Grey, an editor (publisher has).
English will receive a specimen of the secret code of the German navy, seized by Russian in the Baltic, on the stray of the cruiser '' SMS Magdeburg ''. They also will obtain a specimen of the German diplomatic code (code n° 13040) found in the luggage of Wilhelm Wassmuss, agent German operating with the the Middle East.
Room 40 will preserve its name throughout the war, although the service developed largely and changed address. This service east dissolves in February 1919. It is estimated that it deciphered approximately 15000 messages which it received from the interceptions radios or telegraphic. Directed until May 1917 by Alfred Ewing, this service will be it then by the captain, then admiral, Reginald “Blinker” Hall, assisted by William Milbourne James.
Its role was important during the conflict, in particular by its detection of the movements of the German fleet, which led to the battles of the Dogger Bank and the Jutland. Its greater success is to have deciphered the Télégramme Zimmermann, transmitted by the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs to its ambassador to Mexico City.
In 1919, Room 40 disappears while amalgamating with its counterpart from the British Army (Semi-1b) to form the Government Code and Cypher School ( GCCS ). It is this service which will be found with Bletchley Park during the Second world war, under the name of Government Communications Headquarters ( GCHQ ), then finally based in Cheltenham.
- Works in English
- Patrick Beesly, Room 40: Naval British Intelligence, 1914-1918 , New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1982
- Barbara W. Tuchman, The Zimmermann Telegram , Ballantine Books, 1958
- John Johnson, The Evolution off British Sigint: 1653– 1939 , 1997.
- Works in French.
Notes & References
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