Enigma

One of the most widely known coding machines - the Enigma machine. The word enigma comes from the Greek meaning puzzle.

A chance discovery has reunited the Museum’s enigma machine with its set of spare rotors.

The Enigma Machine is one of the most widely known of all coding machines. Initially developed for commercial use, the German Navy, Army and Air Force adopted it as a way to keep communications secret. The complicated system of rotors was used to encrypt messages and was successfully used throughout World War II until the diligence and perseverance of the codebreakers based at Bletchley Park finally cracked the codes.

This discovery became especially vital to the British Navy. During the Battle of the Atlantic, the ability to read German Naval signals was a key factor in the survival of the British convoys. Intercepting an endless stream of coded messages enabled the discovery of German U-boat concentrations and helped to halve the number of British vessels sunk in January/February 1943.

HMS Hermes returning from the Falklands