Enigma machine unveiled by Ruth Bourne
as Bombe Gallery’s first anniversary is celebrated
Veteran Bombe operator Ruth Bourne unveiled an Enigma cipher machine, the latest addition to the Turing-Welchman Bombe Gallery at The National Museum of Computing, in celebration of the first anniversary of the opening of the gallery at the museum.
Uniquely, TNMOC can now demonstrate the range of equipment used in making and breaking both the Enigma and Lorenz ciphers, the two most important enemy ciphers in the second world war and which represent the very early stages of cyber security, a technology that is so vital to modern society.
The reconstructed and completely authentic Enigma machine has been donated to the museum on long-loan by Sheridan Williams, an educational guide and long-time volunteer at the museum. Built in Germany by renowned cipher historian and engineer Klaus Kopacz, the Enigma machine is a perfect working reconstruction and will be in almost daily use by visiting educational groups, giving them profound insights into cybersecurity and the development of our digital world.
Paul Kellar, who heads up the Bombe team at TNMOC, explained how the Enigma working beside the Bombe greatly enhances the visitor impact: “The Enigma is set up to encrypt the Biscay weather forecast for D-Day. The Bombe breaks that key and matches the Enigma's settings, thus enabling us to show the whole process as it might have happened in 1944.”
At the official unveiling of the Enigma machine by Ruth Bourne, members of the Bombe team at TNMOC gathered to congratulate her and present her with a special plaque engraved:
For Ruth Bourne
Who ran the Bombe when it mattered 1942-45
And demonstrated it for the public 2009-19.
From all your friends on the Bombe Team.
Ruth Bourne and her fellow Bombe veteran the recently deceased Jean Valentine opened the Bombe Gallery at TNMOC in June 2018.
Andrew Herbert, chair of TNMOC, welcoming the new addition, said, “The addition of the missing link, the Enigma machine, to our wartime codebreaking displays is a very satisfying achievement and we are very grateful to Sheridan Williams for sourcing and donating this beautifully and precisely engineered Enigma machine. It already fascinates students on our very popular Learning Programme for schools and colleges, as well as general visitors. It is a superb enhancement to our tribute to the men and women, like Ruth Bourne, who worked at wartime Bletchley Park.”
Across three galleries, the Bombe, Tunny and Colossus galleries, TNMOC now demonstrates the making and breaking of the two key enemy ciphers of the second world war: the Enigma cipher communicating day-to-day operations and Lorenz conveying the strategic messages between Hitler and his generals.
Andrew Herbert concluded: “It is hard to exaggerate the significance of what we now display. The Bombe, Tunny and Tunny Galleries give unrivalled insights of the state-of-the-art of cybersecurity in the 1940s and the early stages of our digital world. It is sobering to think that our lives today might be very different if the codebreaking geniuses of Bletchley Park had not been so successful in breaking those ciphers.”
Notes To Editors
1 The Enigma cipher machine
The Enigma cipher machine was developed and used between the first and second world wars to protect commercial, diplomatic and military communication. During the second world war, it was deployed by Nazi Germany across the German military to encrypt short operational messages transmitted by Morse code.
The Enigma machine now at TNMOC is a highly precise and working replica made from the same or near-identical materials used in the originals. Some of the parts may be original parts that were recovered from factories that were bombed during the war.
2 About The National Museum of Computing
Now fully open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10.30 am to 5.00 pm.
The National Museum of Computing, located on Bletchley Park in Block H, one of England’s ‘irreplaceable places’, is an independent charity housing the world's largest collection of functional historic computers, including reconstructions of the wartime code-breaking Colossus and the Bombe, and the WITCH, the world's oldest working digital computer. The Museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the large systems and mainframes of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and beyond.
The Museum runs a highly successful Learning Programme for schools and colleges and promotes introductions to computer coding amongst young people to inspire the next generation of computer scientists and engineers.
Sponsors of the Museum have included Bletchley Park Science and Innovation Centre, Fujitsu, InsightSoftware.com, Paessler AG, Sophos, Issured, Lenovo, Bloomberg, Ocado Technology, Ceravision, CreateOnline, 4Links, Google UK, IBM, NPL, HP Labs and BCS.
For more information, see www.tnmoc.org and follow @tnmoc on Twitter and The National Museum of Computing on Facebook.
Stephen Fleming, Palam Communications