Gordon Welchman, Bletchley Park’s Architect of Ultra Intelligence

 

GordonWelchman

There are two stories. The first story, and the most covered, is directly about the immense contribution 
Bletchley made to the achievement of victory and to the significant shortening of WWII. That story 
in its own right is both completely absorbing and vital to understanding key parts of WWII. The 
second story is perhaps even more essential reading. Welchman was heavily involved in the 
development of technology that made the digital age possible. Bletchley Park is the true home of 
the electronic digital information processor. Without that work, there might be no Internet and we 
could still be living in an analogue world where almost everything we take for granted today would 
not exist.

This book should be essential reading in schools and be read widely. It provides insights that 
should show how further advances can be made and how security can be developed to protect 
the users of electronic information. Currently few understand the threats that come with the 
enormous benefits and because of that, developers and politicians continue to fail miserably in 
providing the benefits at an acceptable level of risk. 

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NAME: Gordon Welchman, Bletchley Park's Architect of Ultra Intelligence
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 180514
FILE: R1973
AUTHOR: Joel Greenberg
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES:  286
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT:  WWII, World War Two, Second World War, 1939-1945, SIGINT, communications 
interception, cribs, ULTRA, code breaking, encryption, decryption, bombe, 
Colossus, Enigma, deception, misinformation, Station X, Y stations, Polish 
intelligence, signal traffic, traffic analysis, pattern analysis, threat analysis, 
Lorenz  
ISBN: 1-84832-752-8
IMAGE: B1973.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.comps3cujt
LINKS: 
DESCRIPTION: The stories of the signal intelligence war were slow to be told 
because the Cold War made its continuation critical. Britain had developed a 
very strong lead in this area with the work of the Admiralty before and during 
WWI to recognize and exploit signal intelligence. As many of the techniques 
continue to be employed in an age of cyber warfare, there will continue to be 
significant gaps in published information on the people, the equipment and 
techniques first developed at Bletchley Park and its outstations.

Essentially the organization generally known as GCHQ operates in the manner of 
Bletchley Park and its supporting organizations. It is a story of two parts. 
One the one hand, there is an organization that creates codes and cyphers for 
British use, continuously tests those products for vulnerability and effectiveness, 
and attempts to identify and break codes and cyphers produced by other countries. 
As the convergence of information and communications systems continues, the 
dividing line between potential and actual enemies and the rest of the global 
user population blurs and creates many new challenges, but in 1939 there was a 
clear enemy.

Matching the code writers and breakers, signal intelligence requires the 
development of equipment and techniques to collect and then analyse enemy 
communications. By volume, this usually sees radio signals as the primary 
source of information and the Germans helped Bletchley Park by extensively 
using radio communication and relying on what the Germans believed was the 
completely unbreakable code produced by the Enigma machine. Although Enigma 
was very difficult to break, Bletchley Park was fortunate to benefit from 
the acquisition of Enigma machines by the Polish intelligence service that 
then shared the knowledge with British code breakers. As long as the Germans 
relied on the basic Enigma technology, British intelligence had an advantage. 
Enigma would be subject to development and changes, but this only created 
short gaps while Bletchley Park identified the changes and improved their 
technology to again break the code. The Germans had not learned one essential 
lesson from WWI. Any radio signals can be intercepted and the first vital 
intelligence is 'chatter'. As before the Battle of Jutland, the Royal Navy 
was able to intercept High Seas Fleet radio traffic and the increases in 
volume gave first warning that the German Imperial Navy was preparing to sail. 
Even without decoding any encrypted traffic, the RN would see how many vessels 
were to be involved and, from radio direction finding by triangulation, the 
locations of the vessels could be mapped. That continued to hold true and is 
still a vital part of modern signal intelligence. It also provided the means 
to start to break enemy code. By transmitting a specially designed signal, 
the enemy reaction to intercepting that signal provides clues to the code 
that they are using This may involve transmitting a signal that has not been 
encrypted to assist the enemy in gaining intelligence and then taking steps 
to act on that false information.

So far, only fragmentary information has emerged from those involved in 
operations at Bletchley. Alan Turing has achieved posthumous fame, but he 
was one of many brilliant individuals who were intimately involved in the 
story. Some, including Welchman, wrote books and papers after 1945 which 
provided insights into their work, but GCHQ and the US NASA acted quickly 
to block further publications and to prevent published authors from making 
further comments. The author, a Bletchley Park historian, has drawn on 
Welshman's papers in an attempt to put the record straight. The result is 
an absorbing book that is packed with fresh insights, although it is not a 
complete account, with some related information still protected by security 
classification and restriction and unlikely to be declassified for many years yet.

There are two stories. The first story, and the most covered, is directly about 
the immense contribution Bletchley made to the achievement of victory and to 
the significant shortening of WWII. That story in its own right is both completely 
absorbing and vital to understanding key parts of WWII. The second story is 
perhaps even more essential reading. Welchman was heavily involved in the 
development of technology that made the digital age possible. Bletchley Park is 
the true home of the electronic digital information processor. Without that work, 
there might be no Internet and we could still be living in an analogue world where 
almost everything we take for granted today would not exist.

This book should be essential reading in schools and be read widely. It provides 
insights that should show how further advances can be made and how security can 
be developed to protect the users of electronic information. Currently few 
understand the threats that come with the enormous benefits and because of that, 
developers and politicians continue to fail miserably in providing the benefits 
at an acceptable level of risk.