Noirin Ni Dubhgaill
Amir M. Korangy

The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone

The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone

Author:Jason Fagone
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins

My experience and observations during my temporary duty with your organization, lead me to make the following recommendations:

—That the representatives going to the field in every case be required to spend sufficient time to become thoroughly drilled in the systems of communication provided for them. This drill and resulting mastery cannot be accomplished in a few hours. It should extend for a few hours daily over a minimum of five days, and with certain types of mind a longer time will be required.

—That a general indoctrination in and discussion of and handling of classified information be undertaken throughout your organization. . . . This matter of indoctrination is a long and difficult process. . . .

She signed the letter “Dr. Elizebeth Smith Friedman” to underscore her credentials. (Her alma mater, Hillsdale College, had awarded her an honorary L.L.D. in 1938.) Then she returned to her own office, to her trusty desk and her fine coast guard colleagues, relieved to be back “home.”

Fresh piles of intercepts from South America awaited her there, and once again she dug in, eavesdropping on the latest activities of the spies. “Sargo” and “Alfredo” still appeared to be in charge of the network there, synthesizing information from their agents across Brazil and Chile and sending reports to Germany over the radio, but there was a new strain of malevolence in their messages. After Pearl Harbor, Brazil had declared solidarity with America, and the Nazis responded by going after Brazil, firing torpedoes at Brazilian ships for the first time. The positions of the ships were provided by “Sargo,” “Alfredo,” and their men. Outraged Brazilian authorities moved against German businesses. “Measures against members of the Axis are assuming drastic form,” one spy in Brazil radioed to Germany. “Bank deposits already blocked. We are destroying all compromising documents, maintaining radio operation as long as possible. Heil Hitler.” In January 1942 Hitler launched Operation Drumbeat, a coordinated U-boat assault on American and British merchant ships carrying war supplies, and “Sargo” and “Alfredo” helped with this effort, too. In three months the ruthless U-boats sent one million tons of material to the bottom of the sea and by summer 1942 the U-boat captains had murdered five thousand Allied seamen. “All along the Atlantic coast,” writes the historian John Bryden, “Americans could look out and see plumes of smoke by day and red fires by night.” The messages Elizebeth solved were dense with detail about Allied vessels coming and going in South American waters:

MARCH 14, 1942 AT 0038

Departed Montevideo: 4th (American SS) F.Q. Barstow to Curacao and (American SS) Western Sword to USA. Departed Rio de Janeiro: 11th (American SS) Ruth to Baltimore; 12th (American SS) Lammot du Pont to Buenos Aires. Arrived Rio de Janeiro: 12th (American SS) Delmar from New Orleans; and 13th (British MS) Devis from Glasgow.

Elizebeth passed these decrypts along the chain as quickly as she could, knowing that Nazi U-boats might already be hunting any of these U.S. or British ships and hoping that the Allied captains could be warned.


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