Alastair Denniston, Code-Breaking From Room 40 to Berkeley Street and the Birth of GCHQ

The author is a specialist in signals intelligence and has provided an enthralling account of Alastair Denniston and his contribution to modern electronic intelligence. This book follows from his excellent biography of another great of signals intelligence, Gordon Welshman – Most Highly recommended.


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NAME: Alastair Denniston, Code-Breaking From Room 40 to Berkeley 
Street and the Birth of GCHQ
FILE: R2625
AUTHOR: Joel Greenberg
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, frontline
BINDING:hard back
PAGES:  308
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, World War One, World War 1, The Great War. BCCS,WWII, 
World War II, World War 2, Second World War, codebreaking, signals 
traffic, signal interception, SIGINT, Cold War, Bletchley Park, GCHQ

ISBN: 1-52670-912-0

IMAGE: B2625.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/m5ncdt7
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: The author is a specialist in signals intelligence 
and has provided an enthralling account of Alastair Denniston and 
his contribution to modern electronic intelligence. This book 
follows from his excellent biography of another great of signals 
intelligence, Gordon Welshman  – Most Highly recommended.

There is an enormous appetite for books on the intelligence 
services, yet so little is really known of their work and 
contribution to military and political victory. At a time when 
the Internet, already some 50 years old, is still thought to be 
very new, the computer is now taken largely for granted and is 
part of almost every device made by man. It is still a surprise 
to many that the Internet had its roots in Bletchley Park and the 
need to process huge volumes of signals intelligence. It was at 
Bletchley that the programmable electronic computer first came to 
life and the work was to be continued by GCHQ into current times. 
Incredibly that computer revolution is more than seventy years old. 
Even more incredibly, its roots go back before the First World War. 
At that time the Royal Navy had formed a strong grasp of the 
advantages and weaknesses of the new wireless communication and 
the first work to develop radio telephony.

At the start of the Twentieth Century, wireless telegraphy was 
rapidly developing and, in only a decade, could not only equip 
powerful shore stations and major warships, but could increasingly 
be fitted to the minor war vessels, airships and aircraft. It was 
also coming into Army use and for diplomatic service as an 
alternative to line connected telegraph services. This provided 
great opportunity, particularly for navies in their communication 
with and direction of warships around the world.

Against the advantages, radio had a potentially fatal weakness in 
that it could be monitored by hostile radio stations, its traffic 
recorded and the location of the transmitters fixed by 
triangulation. The Royal Navy quickly understood the weaknesses 
and began to install monitoring stations around the world. 
Initially, the only encoding of traffic was in the form of Morse 
Code, in its various forms, and similar general transmission codes, 
including short codes like WesternTelegraph abbreviations for 
commonly used words to reduce transmission times. Progressively, 
sensitive traffic came to be encrypted on top of the transmission 
code and that created an urgent need for intelligence services to 
build teams of code-breakers. This would potentially open the most 
sensitive transmissions to hostile ears, but even encrypted traffic 
continued to disclose vital intelligence just by its volume and the 
location of transmitters.

The Royal Navy drove the development of electronic intelligence 
gathering and processing and Denniston was one of the key players 
in this development through two World Wars and the period between. 
He understood the changing needs as encryption became mechanically 
generated and hired Alan Turing and others as the new breed of 
code-breakers for WWII.

This is an absorbing story that is well told and greatly adds to 
the public knowledge of what is still a very murky world that guards 
its secrets jealously.