CRYPTOGRAPHY

Before and in my time in the Navy out to 1984!

Before I start my story, let me remind you that  the American English language has introduced many corruptions to the true British English language some of which I mention here. In so many cases, largely brought on by the computer/internet age, we are seeing words which have almost become the norm for all English speaking nations, included that of our own.

The word program is one of the chief corruptions, but in our field of communications and cryptography, there are many more. In this snippet, I revert back to the proper spelling of some of these corruptions which by and large, you will always find in Bletchley record archives. If it is accepted that in a war of giant combatant forces employing omnipotent killing-machines, an unarmed non-combatant civilian force can be credited in great part with winning the war, then stand up Bletchley, and take a well deserved bow; we salute you and thank you.

The correct word for the American 'cipher' is 'cypher'; for the word 'antenna' it is 'aerial' - we both use the word meaning in the air, skyward, but we Brit's also use it for a device which allows a transmitter or a receiver to function;  for 'tube' it is 'valve';  for 'maneuver' it is 'manoeuvre '; for 'teletypes' it is teleprinters' ; many scores or words where Americans use the letter  'z' and we use the letter 's'; the annoying misuse of a single letter when clearly it should be a double letter for 'signaling' it is 'signalling'; etc.

For many a long year, I, along with my naval communicator peers, chiefly the Wireless Telegraphy Branch [W/T] dealt first hand with cryptography per se in the Royal Navy whilst embarked as members of the ships company in British men 'o war vessels afloat, or on staffs of admirals afloat. In shore communication stations, separate facilities were provided, staffed chiefly by WRNS with a smattering of male communicators, stationed ashore. Where relevant, what applies to our men at sea applies equally to our ladies ashore.

As a stand alone subject, it was vast, encompassing machines, some involving off-line manual processes for high grade cyphers and others affording a temporary and very low grade protection of things like callsigns known in the navy as a "fruit machine", but most of them real time on line processes whether synchronous or asynchronous data or voice, with book high and low grade manual coding [OTP = One Time Pads for example] as far out to emergency codes [Seascout for example] used when all secret and confidential books had been collected and destroyed so as to avoid capture by the enemy by whatever means possible, at sea, usually in lead weighted canvas bags thrown over the side of the vessel to sink into deep water rendering them unrecoverable, or if in harbour or shallow sea areas, by shredding and/or burning, destroying machines using heavy axes and sledge hammers.  All of us were au fait in constructing the Seascout proforma and thereafter, adding in the master code word [chosen at random] and the derivations to the text subsequently added before being transmitted as 5-letter groups over "uncovered" W/T channels to friendly ships known to be in the area, or to distant shore authorities., and by V/S channels to ships in company and coastal signal stations by flags or flashing light. It was also available for practical use from ships boats lowered into the sea when abandon ship was ordered, though what type of information required coding I will not guess at!

In my youth, post boy's training as a fifteen year old,  I was made familiar with the UK Type X system [also, but rarely used, known as a BID08 [with suffix's, which to my certain knowledge was 'exercised' and in my first ship [HMS Tintagel Castle F399]  rarely, if ever, for operational traffic. We did however acquire the expertise,  being aware of all the pro's and con's under the proverbial traffic flow system,  to achieve the necessary skills regularly exercised to code and decode high level top grade traffic for Allied intelligence during the WW2 period. The UK system had an additional piece of kit added to the huge British Type X machine,  which was called CCM, and which used British crypto keying plug-boards set-up from UK data cards.

We regularly exercised a pan Allied communication signal traffic conduit, but I remember well,  that for our part, it was absolutely nothing to do with the royal navy or the defence of our realm which I understood was a prerequisite for all Allied dealings, addressing mainly the annexation of defeated Germany and our land forces involved  viz the BAOR [British Army of the Rhine], and I would imagine Japan, for Allied units dealing with their surrender.

In a minute or so I will be giving an overview of Bletchley Park, which to many people is grossly misunderstood, simply because for the majority of people it is all about Germany and the Enigma machine, which is misleading for a whole hosts of other activities were conducted in that very special establishment!

The Type X/CCM crypto machine was the main piece of equipment available to ships, unless specifically fitted for special operations, although long-haul communications on what were called fixed services [nearly always involving teletypes [US] or teleprinters [UK] between countries and continents, had sophisticated on-line coding devices running at 100wpm with a plain language input and a plain language output, involving no in between manual off-line processes. This equipment was called the 5 UCO system [or BID 30]. In this application, the system infrastructure was as important as the crypto product, which involved high power transmitters, directional aerials, frequency diversity, EDC [error detection and correction], adequate spare/standby equipments immediately available for outages caused by equipment failure which could only be built into fixed terra firma communication centres. More of the disasters when this equipment was built into an afloat communications centre devoid of any of these prerequisites, later on. 

Suffice at this point to know of  the huge chasm between the navy at sea and that ashore where  cryptography was concerned!

  The BID 30 / 5 UCO system was developed by the British during 1943/4 and used with great success on short-haul circuits within specific theatres of war. The BID stood for British Inter Department,  really meaning Government and Armed Forces cryptographic keying material,  a printed card from which daily data is read and applied manually to a multi-core plug field which is then inserted into the crypto machine in use. There were other types which are fully relevant to this page, chiefly BIS [British Inter Services] for use pan army, navy and air force, and BRN [British Royal Navy] unique to us boys in navy blue uniforms. All of them, printed cards, on which the code for the day [or when signalled for a greater or lesser period of time] and all transposed to some kind of a stand alone plug field or rotor stepping system]. The 5UCO stood for 5 unit code, the Murray Code, which coded/decoded all the teletype/teleprinter alpha numeric symbols plus many more functional keys. It did not code the teleprinter stop/start functions which were necessary for telling the teleprinter that a function was starting and again when that function was finished. To differentiate the start function was a Mark and the stop signal was a one and a half Marks.

When the teleprinter has been told to print in Letters this above,  is the letter P in Murray Code.  When in Figures it is the figure Zero. Note that after the figure zero there are five squares each representing a teleprinter function. When you see a black dot,  that indicates NO INTELLIGENCE [Inactive = No volts = a MARK] and when you see a empty square that indicated INTELLIGENCE [Active = 12V in the RN system = a SPACE]. All of those five conditions are coded and decoded.  To better understand, think of a simpler code e.g., the Morse Code. When the Morse key is pressed sending information is sends a SPACE and when not pressed not sending information it sends a MARK. A Mark and a Space have different lengths/time periods. It is of academic interest only to know how long a Mark takes to transmit [depending upon the speed in Bauds of the circuit], ergo 1 Marks, but to know that one tells the teleprinter to start printing the letter P and one tells it to stop printing the letter P etc. The system of the Murray Code PLUS the Stop/Start Teleprinter function is aptly called the 7 start-stop Code. Remember,  only the intelligence, explicit in the Murray Code part, is encrypted.

For those of my readers who are savvy to the workings of the BID660 on ship-shore, intership, maritime rear links [mobile fixed services] etc the functions are analogous in that both could operate using traffic flow security [TFS] when to an eavesdropper, traffic appears flowing continuously indicating that many ships were at sea engaged on a multiplicity of combat tasks, with traffic sent to line as normal and in times when there was no traffic to send, the machine would code the marks=Inactives=no traffic [proverbially known as an auto head running open with no tape in the gate] and send them to line. Both could operate in synchronous mode or asynchronous mode, the former method [also used for BID580 working on fleet broadcasts] involved the transmitting station sending out phasing signals, in the case of the BID660 the pushing of the PMI button [Phasing and Message Indicator marked 'GAIN' meaning to gain synchrony with distant stations or gain the circuit in use] to which all stations could lock onto and thus all user are in 'synch' [synchrony] and stay that way, and for Raleigh-working [BID580] synchronous timed pulses are transmitted,  allowing units to join and achieve synchrony at known times, meaning good and reliable international [atomic clock] time checks,  whilst asynchronous working simply means that you achieve synchrony only when you have traffic to transmit.  For nearly all Royal Navy circuits, the synchronous mode was employed by internal switching with the BID660 itself.  In earlier times, especially on RATT circuits as opposed to Morse circuits, TFS was achieved by the generation of dummy messages produced on demand usually by shore authorities running the RATT broadcast, but could, in certain circumstances, be demanded from vessels using the service! Now, whereas the BID660/580 had plug fields or card readers, the BID30/5UCO used a one time tape [same principle as one time pads] running continuously in duplex mode, so each end of the circuit had two 5-unit code tape gates and each leg, outgoing or incoming, was started by common agreement to each mutual synchrony. This was done on a Morse Key built into the 5-UCO frame/rack operators interface, using the 'Q' Code operating signal of QRV meaning I am ready,  so start your end running, and QRT meaning stop,  when synchrony could not be achieved and a restart was necessary. When both legs of the duplex one time code tapes [of a huge and oft times difficult to handle length, were running, each operator had the use of an 'advance' and a 'retard' rotary control to speed up the tape or to slow it down until synchrony was achieved, which believe me as a long time operator from a flag ship at sea during the Suez Crisis of 1956, was not always easy though it should have been.  The slightest amount of radio frequency interference could easily knock the link out of synch, which meant the operator at either end repeatedly sending QRT, and because it was a very secret one time only code, a new part of the tape had to be sourced [which had not yet gone through the gate i.e., not been used] and agreed upon between the distant operators.  Upon us, during the heat of the war, was placed an extraordinary responsibility far in excess of our experience and to start with ability. I was just newly turned 18 years of age and had been in the navy since October 1953, for three years, half of which was as a boy telegraphist, the other half as a trainee at sea in the navy proper. SNAP SHOT OF MY BRANCH HISTORY SHEET FOR THE SUEZ WAR.pdf The first entry upon my Branch history sheet reflected upon my time in my first ship HMS Tintagel Castle, a frigate. The second entry from August 1956 until January 1957 reflected upon my time in the Suez flag ship HMS Tyne, the only ship ever to have a BID30/5UCO fitted for operational reasons and to fight a war! Whilst is does say that I was a good and reliable operator on a BID30/5UCO, it could have been a little more kinder [and realistic] because I was the very first nominated operator of this equipment and the last left standing when the war was over in early December 1956, still doing trials with Cyprus, Malta, Gibraltar and Plymouth all the way home from Egypt until arrival in Portsmouth in January 1957. The job, under the pressures,  aged me and come January 1957, I had more experience than people ten years my seniority in the AT [automatic telegraphy] science. It is an imperative that one should read the Story of HMS Tyne and her BID30/5UCO fit and how it could so easily have lost us the war, which in fact militarily we won and hands down, defeated only by the USA and its overt threats to the UK economy. http://www.godfreydykes.info/suez%20canal%20war%201956.htm

After the war, it was employed on all primary fixed service linking the world and our world-wide bases directly into the Admiralty in London. By 1950, it was a highly sophisticated technical system with a vast capacity of message transfers, and well before 1955 a 'torn tape' system perfected,  could see a signal received in Singapore's communications centre at Kranji, received from a ship at sea in the Far East,  be on the 1st Sea Lords desk via Whitehall Wireless in a matter of minutes given its priority.

As our bases disappeared world wide  and with them our directional aerial farms directing signals to London, satellite stations ashore and a wide fit of ship-borne satellite stations sailed the oceans, allowed our fixed services to become even more sophisticated, and short-wave communications plus Morse code began to disappear for good. 

But we have jumped ahead of ourselves, so back to the early 1950's this time with respect to our sea going vessels having virtually told the story of our shore sides.

During the Korean War 1950-53 a product of the Cold War, a destroyer depot ship, HMS Tyne, had been used as a base Headquarters ship for British ships engaged under the United Nations banner. She was packed full of WW2 transmitters and receivers, many of them USN equipment's. Although our bases in Hong Kong to the north and Singapore to the south were used when possible, subject to the unreliability of ionospheric short wave [HF = High Frequency] conditions with sun-spots and sporadic problems to cope with in an all Morse code operating environment, much reliance was placed upon USN systems well establish south of the 38th parallel. Much of Tyne's tactical signal traffic was passed to the Admiralty courtesy of these USN facilities, which still left her strategic signal traffic and the press traffic produced by many war correspondents  embarked, to be sent via domestic means north and south of her operating position.

On Tyne's return to the UK, the Admiralty saw an opportunity to use her as a trials ship, fitted her out as a floating communications centre, never been replicated on this sheer scale since.  She maintained much of her radio kit previously hinted at, but she was now earmarked for the BID30/5UCO shore fit system, fixed service equipment, extending her to handle the traffic generated in her as the flag ship and traffic routed through her from commands ashore on a possible tri-service involvement in any future conflict. The subsequent trials were conducted in favourable conditions during 1954-55, favourable in short-wave ionospheric prediction terms, meteorology and weather patterns, winds and sea states and all in European sea areas. She communication into a specially fitted out Devonport/Plymouth Signal Training Centre [St Budeaux] and through shore W/T stations like HMS Flowerdown with the Admiralty for long sustained time periods, experiencing little down-time, exchanging thousands of dummy messages generated by a whole phalanx of communicators over a lengthy period, and come March of 1956, the trials were considered successful except for a few tweaks, and accepted as an operational platform.

When later on in 1956, the Egyptians under Colonel Abdul Nasser, frustrated by lack of promised funds from  the USA to go ahead with the proposed Nile Venture [a diversion of the Nile to create the Aswan Dam], whose change of heart to fund the project came about because money for the Dam from other sources had been used to buy armament from the Russians to enhance their capability to meet and hopefully match the Israelis full on - which it could never do! Nasser desperate for the money to keep face with the Arab League, made it known that he would privatise the Suez Canal and divert transit fees to the Egyptian coffers.  This caused great concern to the British and French Governments which joined forces to lay siege to Egypt attacking the country with a huge fleet, and incidentally the Parachute Regiment, the last time it was used in combat from the skies, now 62 years ago, although they still proudly retain their regimental Pegasus badge.

The readiness of HMS Tyne coincided with the threatening of the full scale attack, and she was duly commissioned for the specific purpose of being the Flagship for the duration, having the flags of the overall Deputy Theatre C-in-C, Lieutenant General Sir Hugh Stockwell and the Theatre Naval C-in-C Vice Admiral Sir Robin Dunford-Slater on board, with the C-in-C proper General Sir Charles Keightley back in London overseeing the campaign. The overall Deputy to General Keightley, the French Vice Admiral Pierre Barjot, was also in London.

I was just one of many drafted and appointed to the flag ship at that time storing alongside Portsmouth's South Railway Jetty. We soon found ourselves in Port Said, Egypt with Tyne going alongside the jetty just before the entry/leaving point of shipping into/from the canal. From the word go, I, with three others, was nominated as an operator for our BID30/5 UCO installation and we trained in Portsmouth before exiting; in Malta our first stop; in Cyprus ashore in Episkopi, and of course once in Egypt, and all days of the voyage in between, to the point of over-kill not to mention boredom as it wasn't a difficult task! By the time we got to Egypt, I had witnessed [even from my lowly professional position]  several weak points in our ship-fit which had been hinted at ashore in both Malta and Cyprus, both places deeply involved with the success of the operation or otherwise.

As to our fortunes, I'll stop here and refer you to a page I wrote many years ago.  For those of you who skip this URL, let me just say our fixed service with Cyprus was a qualified disaster, at least for a sizable time frame!   http://www.godfreydykes.info/suez%20canal%20war%201956.htm

Two weeks before we sailed from Portsmouth frenetic activity was the normal for the training in the use a new device [new to many of us anyway] called a KL7, yet another American invention, developed to be NATO's prime off-line crypto machine designed to replace the British WW2 Type X/CCM machine. It used stepping rotors, much like an Enigma machine, each of several rotors which were set-up from BID, BIS, BRN cards and now AMSP [NATO key cards]. This training involved two quite separate functions, both rather long winded, one being the coding procedures and the other, of great importance, namely the cleaning of the rotors, designed to be done daily. Often, several sets of rotors were set-up with different key cards for different days, for there was nothing more frustrating in a small unit than to receive a message late, coded a day or so before receipt, than to have to set-up, yet again, a set of drums  to match the criterion of the date time group [DTG] of the signal. Large communication centres and big ships could afford to keep a set made-up for previous dates, just in case!

Each rotor  main body [a round Bakelite device some half an inch thick] had a single roundel of broad brass studs each a couple of centimetres in diameter with intervals of comparable distances separating them in the roundel on the outside, and on the inside, attached through the Bakelite to each broad stud, is a tiny brass spring loaded electrical contact. It required a robust rub with the rubber eraser. They had to be cleaned with non-abrasive material and for that purpose an ordinary hard rubber of the ink type [an eraser] was issued along with a twill cloth. Having cleaned each stud in turn the whole roundel is lubricated with a light oil having similar qualities to that of WD40. Then in turn, guided by the relevant key card settings for the day and the system required, the various other plastic parts are added and rotated to the correct place on the rotor. When each rotor has been cleaned and set, it is added in order onto a central spike, the first going to the bottom of the drum as the right hand rotor when the drum is stood on its feet. When all the rotors are inserted into the drum in the correct order,  the end locking cap is placed and the drum is inserted into the KL7 machine.  Each rotor except for one,  had its own window which shows the letter it has settled on whilst dropping it into the drum, rotor atop of rotor, so that the rotors that can be,  have to be put in the same starting position by holding down the relevant stepping mechanism. When all are set to the letter 'A' a test run is generated via the mode switch [a 4 position switch - off - plain - encipher and decipher - American jargon]  set to encipher  [encypher] looking in the range of 35 to 45 stepping actions recorded on the machines  counter, e.g. from 7x5-letter groups to 9x5-letter groups printed out at the print head onto gummed tape suitable for licking and sticking down onto a message paper pad. By checking the print out, one knows from the set-up card check characters, that the machine is correctly set, ready for encoding and of course decoding incoming messages. By far the most malfunctions experienced when operating a KL7 crypto device, were caused by the lack of or poor cleaning techniques of the rotating rotor's, which didn't step correctly either because of dirty contacts or lack of lubrication. Electrical defects were few and far between resulting in a very high MTBF [Mean Time Between Failures].  The  associated MTTR acronym [Mean Time To Repair] was not even considered for there were no technicians aboard trained to fault find, strip down and repair the intricacies of the sophisticated machine; a spare KL7 was always carried in case defects occurred.  Decoding messages with the KL7 was an easy task and if all was set up properly, and one assumes the code had been properly received without corruptions, it either worked or didn't?  If it didn't, a second operator would attempt the decode and if that too failed, the distant originating station is warned that the message is held un-decypherable.  Coding was much  different and labour intensive. Great care was needed so as to avoid the procedure just mentioned of coming back to one's own ship as un-decypherable. Before the first letter of the plain language text could be coded there were several processes to undergo. Coding then began with no keyboard errors tolerated even though it was always possible in the decoding procedure to recognise the redundancy in the English language, by guessing, and usually fairly accurately, at garbled text to work out what was intended by the originator of the message.  When the coding process was concluded, the five letter groups representing the plain language message are torn off neatly from the gummed tape, licked and stuck down onto a page from a signal pad, ten groups per line. When all the groups are stuck down, the message is then routed [how and to whom it is to be transmitted], showing a DTG, the number of groups in the message. An integral function of the routing procedure, is the adding of the  addressees callsigns, which are  also coded but by a low grade external system to afford anonymity throughout its transit before being decoded at its destination. In that transit process, an indefinite two letter callsign is always used in Morse code by the transmitting ship to disguise the four letter international callsign used for P/L signals. But what if one had made a mistake in the coding,  especially when the signal was important and carried a high precedence sign? That sign was pan-navy accepted as M = Deferred - way back in the queue; R = Routine - everyday stuff of no real importance; P =Priority - could escalate if not attended to soon; O = Immediate - must be dealt with as soon as possible; Y=  Immediate - self evident  and Z = Flash -  equating to the flash of lightening, so literally STRAIGHT AWAY WITH NO DELAY TOLERATED! To circumvent that occurrence, the coded signal was always checked by a second separate operator who would then check any external groups added to the coded groups which denotes to the decoder the keying material used in the coding processes, then attempt to decode the message. If that process was successful, the signal was then ready for transmitting ashore for onward routing.

I go back to this URL previously shown above  http://www.godfreydykes.info/suez%20canal%20war%201956.htm for you to get a good understanding of this prioritising .

The KL7 became our number one crypto tool but of course always off-line and manual.

As the 1950/60's panned out, in came RATT which supplanted Morse code to all except the poor submariners and the minor navy vessels who were still Morse-coding and off-line manual cypher coding, as late as the early 1970's. This innovation first brought to the sea going fleet the BID580, again a key card, but this time, one separated from the parent file  and laid on a tray integral to the front panel of the 580, which was then closed shut and locked. At this point the RN had incoming plain language from a plain language transmission point up to a SECRET classification though routinely up to Confidential only, negating at least a third of the use of the KL7's function, meaning a command function direct from the originator to the CO of a warship without a delay or by that time, an antiquated manual crypto system. It was an innovation without a precedent and it changed all our lives immensely. The KL7 still had a use however, which addressed the higher classification traffic or the highly personal messages about key personnel. Traffic endorsed TOP SECRET, COSMIC TOP SECRET, AND ATOMIC TOP SECRET and SPECIAL HANDLING involved the KL7, but now loaded with appropriate keying material only available to nominated [in captains standing orders] commissioned officers. Each communicator, officer or rating, was given a specific level of classification handling via a process called positive vetting, where your background, out to your grandparents, is checked and proven to be 'squeaky-clean'. At one stage as a warrant officer appointed to a sea going admirals staff, I had clearance up to top secret and special handling for all ratings personal welfare.

Of course, an insult were I not to mention it, but there were professional signal officers who coped in every way on the receipt of one of these special signals and required zero assistance in decoding the message which he or she and the CO only were privy to, except for perhaps assistance in the setting up of the drums under supervision, from the ultra high grade setting cards they, and they alone had access to. For the rest, especially when a profession signals officer was not bourne, the procedure was more laborious. In this case, the nominated officer would appear in the wireless office where, under his supervision, a set of drums would be set-up using the special setting card the officer brought with him. Once set up and checked correct, the received set of 5 letter groups would be given to the telegraphist, who with the officer's hand masking the print head of the gummed tape, would select 'decipher' [decypher] and type in the groups with a recognised dexterity which for good and obvious reason the officer lacked. At no stage would the telegraphist buck the system to try and view the text on the gummed tape inherently playing fair by the rules, and at close of play, as it were, the commissioned officer would repair to his cabin having retrieved the drum contents and taking away the key set card and all associated received/processed text paper], and would then lick the torn tape on to a suitable piece of paper for the reading by the CO.  To register for posterity that the message had been received in the ship, an acquaint note was left on file in the communications centre.

Apart from the ultra war-like secrets mentioned above, there was often the case of certain members of the crew, whether ships company or complemented officers, whose family had fallen either on hard times, indiscretions, impoverishments, close family premature deaths or acts of infidelity on the part of wives which had triggered the support of the naval welfare system as a morale feature, were absolutely not for the ears or eyes of the crew of the vessel. In cases like this, special keying material was issued as follows. For the adverse news of rating's families, the senior radio man had his own keying material to take an off line crypto message, decode it, for action by the second in command, the Commander or a large vessel or the first lieutenant of a smaller vessel before involving the CO.  Regrettably this often involved bereavements with the accompanied profound sadness of the rating who would be called to the CO's cabin to break the news, always accompanied by the CO's secretary who would offer compassionate leave, ships programme permitting, and always with the man's interest notwithstanding except if the shore welfare authority specifically confirms that the family at home is coping well with the situation and doesn't consider it necessary for the crew member to be in attendance, although of course, always desirable, and a heart wrenching decision for the man involved! From my great experience in the gummed tape spewing out of the machine, the navy were kind and accommodating in their response to these sad KL7 messages whenever possible. When it came to receiving bad news about my own close family, the  navy had to sure that I would not decode my own message of grief. Such messages were handled throughout the system as DELTEXT messages meaning 'delicate texts'. That onerous task was performed by a nominated commissioned officer, but it could so easily have been me typing the coded groups into the KL7 with the officers hand masking the print head stopping me from seeing the decoded gummed tape text. When the DELTEXT involved officers,  it was addressed as 'Deletext Staff-in-Confidence for CO's Eyes Only', and decoded in keying material only the CO held and issued personally to a dedicated officer, usually the SCO, which could be either the STAFF or SHIPS Communications Officer. It would be a sadness were he to decode sad news pertaining to himself! All Deltext messages involving personnel matters, were eventually deal with by the CO himself and the CO's Secretary and where relevant, the Captain's Office Staff. 

But, I am getting ahead of myself, and you may be wondering how we protected sensitive information post WW2 until the advent of a modern portable high grade coding machine viz,  the KL7, other than by the large, cumbersome and not always reliable or even available Type X/CCM cryptographic machines which we youngsters were trusted to set up and operate?

Well we did it the hard way! We used a manual paper systems, which were highly secret pads [A4 size or thereabouts] of printed codes, known as OTP = One Time Pads for HIGH GRADE crypto, explicitly meaning that each code was used just the once before being shredded or burnt, or a system called SLIDEX for LOW GRADE crypto.  For OTP's, both ends of the communication chain had to have identical numbered pads and a vouched for destruction/disposal certificate after use. It was a laborious procedure and much of our cryptographic training was devoted to the use of these  highly accountable pads. Words like transposition, interpolation, and resolution featured large with this type of coding/decoding and I well remember being taught the ins and outs of the processes which we youngsters were not allowed to use operationally. That use was entrusted to the branch petty officers and above, regularly involving commissioned communication officer. The randomness of the codes used [noise was the only true random generator and the source used in the BID660 system know as "noisy diodes" which produces a pure random noise which will not repeat a resultant code for approximately 210 years - so a pretty secure code?] couldn't be generated by an algorithm nor by a mathematical process and had to be one hundred percent pure random. Thus millions of random code data were produced and printed on cards, stored, ready for issue and use, and that in itself was a security headache. In their day they were used to code the highest possible security caveat's, what today we might call 'atomic or nuclear cosmic top secret' and were guarded as though each separate code was a solid gold bar! As one can imagine, the processes were extremely slow and frustrating, often involving long waits for replies, acknowledgements and actioning. You may have also picked up on that errors caused in the resultant transmitted groups caused by radio interference, would corrupt the text and no amount of guessing [using the proverbial redundancy in the English language] would have circumvented the garbled decode. Accuracy and accountability [hence the probable use of senior personnel doing all the coding processes] was paramount. A ship and its crew could be lost by errors made using this system. They were nerve-racking times! Today, the internet covers OTP as a computer based system, wholly mathematical, and none of what is on show is relevant to the naval OTP system of the 1940's/50's. As for destruction and destruction certificates, I can well remember a naval covered lorry visiting the jetty moving from brow to brow of different ships, there to collect sacks full of so-called "confidential waste" but quite often used higher classified caveats were placed in them. We travelled in the lorry with our certifying officer to the port's incinerator to carry our sacks to its fiery mouth, and there witnessed its burning.  On return to our ship, the vehicle stopped to allow our officer to submit his forms of destructions into the dockyard's CBO [confidential book office].  We repeated this journey and function regularly.

Although we weren't aware of it at the time, our coding devices were very similar to those employed during WW2 by the Axis powers, but in our case, by the Germans known for their ingenuity. Our stepping coded drums were the same as the enigma in principle, and our BID30/5UCO inter alia, the same as the so called Nazi teleprinter code which was a one time code also used in manual book code the same as our OTP; it was called the TUNNY system. Bletchley Park, much visited today as a day out, is still I feel, grossly misunderstood for what it did in its many roles. Ask a visitor what Bletchley achieved, and a goodly number would mention Germany and the Enigma Code. Well of course, Germany was the leading protagonist and largest, longest engaged of the Axis powers, so it makes good sense that they would home in on that country, always assuming that Austria and others, deeply implicit in the Nazis doctrinaire,  used an enigma, but just about every German service, civil, military, Nazi HQ's in Berlin, Kreigsmarine surface and sub surface, Luftwaffe, SS Waffen, Gestapo, Ordnungspolizei [so-called uniformed civilian police force, fire brigades etc, used variations of the Enigma with different drum settings. Whilst all AXIS high grade systems were the major worry in Bletchley, their operatives never stood still and investigated all and every form of codes and cyphers. What for example were the so-called neutrals doing,  Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and Sweden, especially Ireland and Spain known either to be pro German or anti-British/Allies? Bletchley Park had sizable units employed monitoring all these countries, and remember the German friends in Argentina well willing to give sanctuary to the pocket German battleship Graf Spee, whilst a mere stone throw away,  Uruguay was very pro British and were instrumental in Captain Langsdorff deciding to scuttle his ship just outside Montevideo, forced back to sea under Section 12 the Geneva Convention, and after destroying his vessel, he and fellow scuttlers travelled  a goodly distance up the River Plate  in a small boat to the place of his suicide, in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires.  Bletchley virtually monitored the transmissions and codes used by all nations who had not fully committed themselves to the cause of destroying the Third Reich, Japan  and their allies, large and small,  and continued doing that against Italy even though she surrendered and changed side in 1943. In short Bletchley held to ransom any country remotely connected with the Axis powers, many pirates in their supply chain not caring a hoot who won the war, only that their pockets were filed, and tens of thousands of spies and 5th columnists with deep rooted loyalties.  Countless millions of reasonably sophisticated secret codes have been used in Europe and specifically in Great Britain dating from as far back as the early Plantagenet's, the family defeated at Bosworth Field [Richard  III by the Welsh man and Lancastarian Henry Tudor] which brought about perhaps the most secretive period ever in our unremitting history, the Tudor's.  For example being the cypher officer of any side in the 100 year war or the Battle of the Roses [lasting 32 years from 1455 to 1487] was not for the faint hearted and could so easily lead to a public execution.  

  At a quick glance, few I suspect have heard of TUNNY and yet at stages throughout WW2 is was a zenith to reach in the decryption of German traffic of the utmost secrecy, that of the German High Command. Many of the Bletchley Park post war documents deal collectively with Enigma, Tunny and Colossus, Colossus being our own British system manufactured and designed  to crack the German Tunny  codes. Tunny was the teleprinter one time tape code similar to the BID30/5 UCO we used in WW2 and thereafter, and generally the processes of the offline OTP. Just as potent as Enigma for many years of WW2 and before, even  after the Enigma Pandora's Box had been opened to reveal the enormity of this core crypto system and its multi-use, multi-crypto keying, but critically important to us until we had it cracked and mastered Tunny and of course didn't let on that it had been cracked accruing valuable information of the Reich's intentions:  few people have heard the word 'Tunny'. Bletchley files in great detail are ubiquitous at TNA and here are just a few of a great number:-

HW 18/205 U-Boat cypher 29 Nov 1943 to 18 Mar1944
HW 25/28 Solution of German Teleprinter Cyphers [Testery] Linguistic Methods 0 May 1941 to 30 Sep 1945
HW 25/5 Account of the methods used for breaking German teleprinter cypher messages 1 Jun 45 - 30 Jun 1945
HW 31 Government code and cypher school - Commercial Section - reports of decrypted messages in private codes and cyphers, comprising messages passing between commercial organisation [firms, banks, etc world wide. 1943-1945. Records of Minstry for Economic Warfare. The Commercial Section was set up in 1938. It moved location four times: from London to Bletchley at the outbreak of war and back to London in 1939, because of pressure on space at Station X; in September 1940 to a house some miles from Bletchley; and back to London in May 1942 as part of the Civil Branch of the school. The section was closed down in August 1945.
HW 41/344 Notes on German medium grade cyphers 1 Oct 1941 - 8 Oct 1944
HW 25/8 Enigma Chiffriermaschinen=Haandelsmaschine; a pamphlet on the use of Enigma the "large machine" particularly for business purposes. 1 Jan 1923 to 31 Dec 1950
HW 25/34 Colossus working aids. Colossus was the first computer used at Bletchley Park for cryptoanalytic work in particuar on Tunney the German High Command on-line cypher 1 Jan 1945 - 30Aug 1945
HW 25/35/2 German One Time Pad Machine 14 June 1932 to 31 Dec 1940
HW 13/125 ULTRA reports on GAF W/T and cypher arrangements 14 Feb 1944 to 16 Dec 1944
HW 13/126 PEARL/ZIP reports on GAF W/T and cypher arrangement 5 May 1943 to 6 May 1945
HW 51/80 Details of enemy cyphers obtained from interrogations of POW's 30 JUL 1942 - 4 Apr 1944
HW53/56 Irish cyphers. Correspondence and work done 10 Apr 1944 to 12 Jun 1944
HW 29 Government code and cypher school;  commercial section; reports of P/L and public code messages throughout the whole of WW2 1938 TO 1946
This series comprises summary reports by the Commercial Section of commercial messages originated in enemy and neutral countries. Two notable topics stand out: German efforts to obtain wolfram and iron ore from Spain; and the attempts by Japan to obtain new technology and products from Germany. Reports were initially circulated to the Ministry of Economic Warfare, the Board of Trade, the Information Branch of the Censorship and the three service ministries; other ministries were added later.

 The British systems could be compromised by foreign crypto analysis, operational from 10th July1943 until 14th August 1947 as our main online system [demoted thereafter although still used in the early years of the Cold War] was not release into the public domain until February 2018- "TNA HW40/87 [formerly Ref L6[A]".  Of note, even now, the KL7, first used in the RN in 1952,  its recognised replacement and long time now disused,  has still many years to run before it too and its secrets are made known to the general public. Another of Bletchley's jobs was to continuously try to break British system to check that they were watertight on the premise, justified, that if they couldn't break them nobody else could.

In early 1974 [44 years ago from penning this page]  I was the chief technical instructor in the signal school HMS Mercury when a new device was introduced into the RATT system known as RWA, fitted in all ships as well as RWC fitted in submarine: also available elsewhere, say on shore, with its own unique set up. This device was to see the total demise of the KL7 at that point used only for special handling signals the text of which, because of its extra ordinary high sensitivity for national security was coded offline, as were messages dealing with sensitive information about personnel called DELTEXT meaning delicate texts. It was called Outfit TLA but  more commonly the Literaliser, which in itself was a automatic telegraphy 5 Unit code transmitter, completely unclassified and was often used in situ as an ordinary autohead Type 6s6 in the bay into which it had been hard-wired. These signals were not sent on fleet broadcasts in the clear in plain language but in five letter groups coded at the originators point on and off line system following the theme of the KL7, enhanced by a double encryption system. RATT [Radio Automatic TeleType] operators used to seeing classified and unclassified signals sent in P/L = plain language, were alerted that the following signal was in code and that they must cut a tape with the signal code on it on a teleprinter with a reperf machine, as well as having the code groups on the associated teleprinter, in which case they would tear off the top teleprinter paper role copy, then marry it to the torn off 5 UCO tape, leaving the bottom copy of the teleprinter as proof of reception. At that point they would alert the 'special handling officer/warrant officer to come to the wireless office with his special keycard and BID 660 plug field, make up the plug field from the special handling card, place it into a spare offline BID660 connected to a dedicated teleprinter which encompassed the P/L and CY [Cypher] ports of the TLA, making the dedicated 660, the plug and socket distribution panels and the TLA an enclosed stand alone unique system to either encode or decode these special signal, without allowing all but those specially cleared to have access, to see and use the system. This is a diagram of the front panel of Outfit TLA showing the main connections and switches.

It was a long drawn out procedure and with long signals time consuming and for experts only. The first process was to sit in front on a teleprinter with the P/L version and type it in so as to make a paper tape on the teleprinter reperf = reperforator. The P/L page copy and and carbons used to produce a back copy were torn off the machine and placed into a bag of goodies [containing the special keying material and plugfield] which the officer would take with him for his own records on leaving the wireless office/MCO = Main Communications Office]. The next step was to code [for the first time] the P/L paper tape so he sets up a system shown above. Here you can see the P/L tape in the reading gate of the literaliser with the mode switch set to encrypt. To lock the BID 660 you see, to the distant BID660 decoding the signal, a PMI synching pulse must be received and that is put on the front of this P/L tape before coding starts. Follow the system around the diagram. The red stripes are links applied to meet the situation, and the 'notin use' box for this process produces the group count when relevant. Note top left teleprinter reperf churning out a tape, now encrypted ready for sending over a transmission link with the BID660 phasing signal in place. The next process was to LITERALISE this tape, and that is a process of faithfully  adjusting the data therein for its delivery route probably passing through several different systems/routes.  Whatever happens that code will be held uncorrupted. So back this top left tape goes into the TLA reader gate. The TLA is switched to 'LIT' away from 'Encode'. The new tape produced by re-connecting the TLA direct to a lone teleprinter with a reperf. That tape has the literalised instructions plus the first encryption and PMI synching signal. That tape is given to the wireless office staff to transmit over fleet circuits to a shore communications centre, its second encryption completing the double system employed. The reverse processes are a little less stressful. The received double encrypted tape mentioned in the paragraph before the above picture is given to the special handling officer.  He prepares his BID660 with the crypto material he alone holds and when ready, the picture below becomes relevant.

The red connecting links are the same as the first picture, but note  the teleprinter top left, it has a P/L copy of the highly secret or delicate text ready for distribution to senior officers, whereas, the teleprinters in the top picture show throughout a garbled text. The TLA mode switch is switched to DELIT/DECRYPT, the tape is put into the reader gate and the system is started. Simple in the decode mode, but not so in the encode mode.

After my stint in the signal school, in mid 1974, I was sent to sea again as a sea rider at Portland on the staff of Rear Admiral James Eberle, a goliath of a man, whose son was appointed as the naval aide/secreatry to HRH Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, and whose Signal officers [my bosses] where Lieutenant Commander Brian Burns RN [Flag Lieutenant]  and Lieutenant [SD][C] Jack Case RN. At Portland we prepared ships ready for combat, for full on wars, over a range of periods from two weeks to six weeks, involving ships from several navies, chiefly European in the guise of the Dutch and Germans routinely, and the French occasionally. We also prepared ship's crews of other nations who had bought British built warships before returning home with them,  well prepared. It really came home to me in the scores of British warships, where I was continuously asked to help with with their literalising problems, appalled at the lack of savvy amongst even the most senior of people, let down by what we called PJT [pre joining training] where courses were run ashore for those, many of them rusty having been away from the sea for lengthy periods serving in shore stations often abroad, joining a sea going front line warship, many extremely apprehensive, nay, positively scared and concerned. They had no need to be for we trainers were always positive and sympathetic, encouraging them through their uncertain times, giving us, certainly me, much pleasure in doing so.  I was promoted out of Portland in September 1975 as a warrant officer. Mind you, I still preferred the KL7 for special handling sensitive traffic - much less fuss and cheaper on tapes alone, with the KL7 using up relatively small amounts of narrow paper tapes and the TLA many many miles of broad paper tape all requiring to be burnt and securely stowed until a return to harbour and access to an incinerator!

As the navy progressed into the third quarter of the 20th century, and we got our satellite communications packages, first off Skynet 5 and then Scot, [both of them at SHF frequencies with approx 6.5 Giga Hertz up link and 7 Giga Hertz down leg, later on bringing in SSIXS = UHF satcoms for submarines, but we maintained the same strategic [BID580 - Raleigh system] and tactical [BID660 - Orestes] crypto outfits and terminal equipments. Satellite technology replaced HF = Short Wave signal paths subject to regular and sometime unpredictable changes in the ionosphere interrupting vital strategic/tactical  communications back to the Ministry of Defence. Since the ionosphere is a world wide natural phenomena, it is always available, warts and all, with known variations when in the seas/oceans covering the planet. The satellite system, by and large, circumvented these variances always assuming that the satcom aerial in the ship  was pointing to the satellite to achieve reliable and constant communications with shore. I say aerial, but in fact every ship had two], each covered by a posh pure white radome to stop the element [sea spray for example] reducing the aerials efficiency, one port and one starboard so that no matter the course of the ship or the unpredictable and rapid manoeuvring, one of these aerials locks on and keeps us in touch. The Royal Navy used a geostationary satellite parked more or less on the top of Nairobi in the African country of Kenya, having a large and generous earth footprint which could be seen well from the UK, Cyprus and Hong Kong, all with a deep loyalty to the UK.  This allowed handshakes, so for example, a ship in a remote part of the China Sea could communicate with the UK [whose aerial was at Oakhanger in Hampshire] via Hong Kong through Cyprus to Oakhanger. As long as we were within the footprint of the India Ocean satellite all was well. However, falling outside it made life very difficult  given that we had lost almost all of our land based HF stations.  Well, sod's law raised its ugly head and our first vitally important need of good communications was denied to us because we were forced into a war where the footprint did not shine or cover, namely the 1982 war against Argentina in the South Atlantic. Our aerials, desperately trying to lock on to a signal coming from way up north miles outside the footprint, resulted in them pointing direct into the sea which utterly cramped our style. The Americans, ergo the USN, didn't use geostationary satellites but instead they used circling satellites [a system called DSCS], several of them instead of just the one for the RN,  which as they entered a segment of the globe around which they were orbiting,  they shook hands with the satellite in front of them about to enter the next segment. Each had a massive footprint in the longitude north/south aspect which more than covered the South Atlantic, and put simply, had it not been for the friendship of the USA towards us [championed by the friendship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher] we would have been knackered not to mentions unbelievably embarrassed it the eyes of the on looking world. The USN saved our day full stop. However, we didn't learn our lesson, for at no time did they abandoned our satellite, called Skynet, which all these years on is still geostationary. It could well be that we might need the USN's assistance/cooperation again,  for Buenos Aires still desires to acquire what they call the Malvinas. Communications apart, we are kidding ourselves that our tiny navy could mount a repeat of the 1982 armada, and many believe that if they pounced again, many South American companies will pay more that lip service in supporting them, and we would lose hands down with the United Nations taking an ambivalent view, avoiding a second war at all costs.

One of assets of the satcom system was the ability to generate coded voice using a crypto system KG13 BID820 on interference-free circuits. This allowed the Commander Task Force [CTF] to talk direct,  terminating in the MOD Zone telephone exchange in London from where a conversation with the PM/Cabinet or the naval C-in-C or even patched into the BT countrywide public exchanges was possible. A technological break through without parallel for British forces deployed on distant missions!

Coded voice [and NOT simple speech inversion] was not just for satcoms, but on intership V and UHF direct wave short range voice circuits either pan navy, or tri-service. This introduced the BID150 [Delphi] with KKA access, with an access to the BID250 [Lamberton] with the army on a pre-plan basis. The BID150 was versatile and could be used with fixed equipment or portable equipment. The KY8  [Nestor] equipment, an American device was also used in some RN units from the late 1960 period.  It was a revolutionary piece of engineering supplanting our voice inverters and scramblers for real voice encryption used mid 50's to mid 60's approx, itself supplanted in the UK by the BID equipment mentioned above. As early as January 1945 through to December 1946 that great man Turing worked on the speech secrecy system Delilah rendering a comprehensive report now recorded as TNA HW 25/36.

This is a diagram of a SKYNET V - early 1960's British capital warship SATCOM fit. It shows four separate areas of the ship, a MCO = Main Communications Office : a SCCO = Satellite Communications Control Office : a LSP = Local Speech Position and a RSP = Remote Speech Position.  The first three are operator/technical areas, and the 4th, the RSP is where the admiral goes to talk to shore authorites on covered voice over the satellite through the BID 820 crypto devices, two of them for coherent normal two way telephone calls. This was HMS Intrepid's fit and the SGT = Satellite Ground Terminal feeding London was in the Christchurch area of Hampshire more or less on the south coast of England.

An early - 1960s - British CAPITAL SHIPS SATCOM FIT.pdf

FDME and CDMA mean respectively Frequency Division Multiplex Entry/Access and Code Division Multiple Access.

See also COLD_WAR_MACHINE_CRYPTOGRAPHY.html

 

 

 

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