ENIGMA 2000 Newsletter - Issue 13

November 2002
Articles, newsreports and Items of interest : e2k_news@hotmail.com

Morse stations | Voice stations | Numbers predictions
Oddities | Michael John Smith, Codename Borg
Book Review :England needs you | Numbers on holiday | News Items
Web sites | Requests | Stop press | Contribution deadlines
Index | E2K NL Home


ENIGMA 2000 book review
England needs you, the story of Beaumanor Y station World War Two

Joan Nicholls

ISBN 0 9538186 0 8 £17.50 [from any good bookseller].

The breaking of ENIGMA machine encrypted messages, the manner of encryption and the efforts taken by the allies to break the codes has been well documented. Fact, Fiction, Films and Television Documentaries have all produced at first a clear story of how the codes were tackled and later distorted facts of how ENIGMA machines and essential documentation was gained by the allies.

The decrypts, which are said to have shortened World War Two and saved countless lives, were the end product of a system of which the 'codebreakers' were the final cog.

Many books have been written to give the flavour of the mechanics of interception, collation and decryption. There have been many titles, no doubt read by many ENIGMA 2000, US Spooks and WUN members.

In 'England Needs You, The Story of Beaumanor Y Station World War Two' Mrs Nicholls describes the work of the War Office Y Group and recounts her experiences at Beaumanor Hall, Leicestershire. It is a personal account of a young lady, who misled the authorities about her age, was selected to work as a Morse Intercept Operator against German Military wireless signals and who served her Country between 1942 to 1945.

The book is a soft covered A4 size and is 201 pages long in which 27 sections recount the author's personal experiences and of those with whom she served. Six other sections complete the book giving Acknowledgements, Sources, Index, Names of Beaumanor Staff, list additional Names and finally list illustrations and photographs used.

The first cog in the 'wireless war' were the German wireless operators who sent the encrypted text, but the second cog was the Y Station intercept operator. These operators worked under difficult conditions. Britain was not ready for war in 1939 and the speed of the British War machine saw to it that those who served did not have a comfortable war by any means. The first sections adequately recount the hardships suffered by Y Station personnel with such verve that it remains obvious throughout the book that these servicemen and women just got on with their duties quietly and efficiently and made the best of their hardship.

The book is amusing, informative and very occasionally, tragic.

Radio technicalities are covered with detail. There is mention of the Adcock antenna and its use with direction finding [HF/DF]. Photographs show various set ups; the AR88 receivers in 19 inch racks, HRO receivers and there is mention of the Hallicrafters SX28.

Other photographs illustrate the use of Teleprinters [look like Creed 3B's] and the Terminal Units required for the conversion of the received Baudot codes into the pulses to drive the receiving electromagnet that is the hearts of the teleprinters. Morse learning aids, in the form of charts are also detailed.

Other books, by established authors, have not covered the subject of Y station work in such detail, nor has the personal angle been touched upon.

This book is to be recommended for anyone with an interest in Wireless Interceptions. The detail goes into good detail; even of the most mundane of the SWOP's basic tools: the pencil. How many E2k, Spooks or WUN's use a pencil to write up their logs? How many of them use a chisel point [why?].

It is easy to imagine that the book covers just 1942 to 1945; but the story has not ended there. Those young persons who were trained to do tasks in the utmost secrecy and with great professionalism were at their formative years. Friendships were formed and maintained and now, sixty odd years on, they remain an exclusive group whose work was never really publicly acknowledged. Associations have formed and there have been reunions, some recounted in this book, a worthwhile read for those of us whose interest is the recreational interception and analysis of wireless signals sent from the intelligence services of other Nations. Above all this book is a necessary memorial to the work and to the exceptional group of persons who simply did their duty.

©Paul Beaumont 2002.


Morse stations | Voice stations | Numbers predictions
Oddities | Michael John Smith, Codename Borg
Book Review :England needs you | Numbers on holiday | News Items
Web sites | Requests | Stop press | Contribution deadlines
Index | E2K NL Home

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