- To coincide with the 75th anniversary of D-Day, this Thursday 6 June 2019, Bletchley Park will be live tweeting minute by minute, in real time 75 years to the day, decrypted German Naval Enigma messages intercepted on site during the 6 June 1944 operation.
- Starting from 23.58 GMT on 5 June, when German naval units were put on alert, to the following night by which time 156,000 Allied troops had landed by sea and air, the messages reveal how the Germans slowly realised that the Allied invasion in the West had begun. The Western Allies had landed in Normandy and not Calais as the Germans had been led to believe.
- The 182 messages will be posted on the Bletchley Park twitter account @bletchleypark starting at 00.58 (GMT+1) and ending at 23.38 (GMT+1) – the times they would have originally been intercepted on 6 June 1944.
David Kenyon, Bletchley Park’s Research Historian and author of Bletchley Park and D-Day said: “These messages give a powerful insight into the Germans reaction to D-Day. Over the course of the day, you can see the German commanders try to understand the scale of the invasion, sifting through fact and subterfuge to find out what was really going on.”
Messages sent by German naval commanders at all levels on 6 June 1944 report on the first airdrops and reference the dummy parachutists used to divert attention from the main landing zones; describe the German navy’s first responses to sightings of Allied ships, resulting in a sharp and violent engagement between torpedo boats and the landing force steaming towards Sword Beach; and give a blow-by-blow account of the desperate efforts of the Marcouf battery to resist the landings at Utah Beach.
For most of the war, Bletchley Park relied on secret listening stations, known as ‘Y’ stations, to intercept enemy messages, but for 8 weeks in May-July 1944, Bletchley Park took the risk of intercepting enemy messages on site in order to speed up the codebreaking process. Secret listeners in Hut 18 were monitoring German Enigma traffic to monitor the reaction to the invasion, any threats to the invasion fleet at sea, and the movement of troops in northern France.
Time stamps on the messages show how they were intercepted, decrypted and translated at Bletchley Park, then sent via teleprinter to Allied commanders within two and a half hours. The teleprinted copies of these messages are held at The National Archives but Bletchley Park is home to a collection of 246 of these original messages, handwritten by the Watch Officer in Naval Section at the final stage in the codebreaking process, before being sent by teleprinter to Allied commanders. Covering the period 6 – 8 June, these rare surviving examples of part of the codebreaking process were donated to Bletchley Park in 2014 and feature in the new immersive film D-Day: Interception, Intelligence, Invasion.
Peronel Craddock, Head of Collections and Exhibitions at Bletchley Park said:
“Bletchley Park had been compiling vital intelligence for Allied commanders for over 18 months in the run up to D-Day, but the Codebreakers also supported the operation as it unfolded. We hope that this ‘Twitter Takeover’ will give people a powerful sense of what it was like to be at Bletchley Park on D-Day, learning about the fate of the Normandy invasion through the reactions of the Germans. The 7,000 strong workforce at Bletchley Park were decrypting almost 5,000 Enigma messages a day, so these 182 messages represent just a fraction of their output on 6 June.”