PAGE_69_OWLS Graf Spee (Norrköping Enigma intercept)


Image "Graf Spee Enigma message"
Enigma Funkspruch an Graf Spee
ENIGMA M3 MESSAGE KEY (Graf Spee Enigma message):

Model: M3 (NAVY)
Reflector: B
Wheels: 165
Wheel positions: EKD  or  EXD
Rings: AHX  or  AUX
Plugs: AO BU CR EW JT KS MP NY

Picture source and copyright: http://www.zenza.se/signalspaning



12.12.1939:

0923/ 12 / 90 OWLS VBEL QQMW TQJW JTMN SXYL NSAC MHXZ ZRXW LNQZ ZZDZ VLVU TKXD XWSL SKNW EZNF CFRG LIUH XPVK INZA JVEC MOTV PVNZ IMRB UIEU BZGF MZYP RMME WTFZ FGVL QSYQ GWND MQDN RZOV YMGA VLFM RAFZ RYRM ICPE ZSMK BMHJ UTDU QSBA BROQ LEFP RBZF JQSR PMRY XWOX IJLD VIFV XJLM RQFG YHIM ELRS DOTA IVVX MXMD PISB HLIM MBFM KJSW TJMC CPEG KPJA VBWK JUZQ BDEW DJYB MTYM OWLS VBEL

Message indicator groups: OWLS VBEL

Ciphertext (without indicator groups):

QQMWTQJWJTMNSXYLNSACMHXZZRXWLNQZZZDZVLVUTKXDXWSLSKNWEZNFCFRGLIUHXPVKINZAJVECMOTVPVNZIMRBUIEUBZGFMZYPRMMEWTFZFGVLQSYQGWNDMQDNRZOVYMGAVLFMRAFZRYRMICPEZSMKBMHJUTDUQSBABROQLEFPRBZFJQSRPMRYXWOXIJLDVIFVXJLMRQFGYHIMELRSDOTAIVVXMXMDPISBHLIMMBFMKJSWTJMCCPEGKPJAVBWKJUZQBDEWDJYBMTYM

Plaintext:

GRAFSPEEVONSEEKRIEGSLTGXXJDEVONSHIREJJDEYONSHIRAJWESTLICHSCHOTTLANDXJYOLBERTJJCOLBERTJJAIGLEJJAIGLEJMIGTELMEERYJALGERIEJJALGERIEJJJULOSVERNEJJJULESDERNEJVONXASABLANCANACHGIBRALTARXENGLISCHJAFRICSTARJJAFRICSTARJMITZWOHECKGESCHUETZENNEUNXEINSLWOXTENERIFEAUSNACHBUENOSAIRESDF

Interpretation (preliminary):

[An] Graf Spee von Seekreigsleitung:
"Devonshire" "Devonshire" westlich Schottland. "Colbert" "Colbert" "Aigle" "Aigle" Mittelmeer, "Algerie" "Algerie" "Jules Verne" "Jules Verne" von Casablanca nach Gibraltar. Englisch "Afric Star" "Afric Star" mit zwo Heckgeschützen 9.12. Tenerife aus nach Buenos Aires.

Translation (preliminary):

[To] Graf Spee from Naval War Staff:
"Devonshire" [repeat] "Devonshire" west of Scotland. "Colbert" [repeat] "Colbert" [and] "Aigle" [repeat] "Aigle" [in] Mediterranean, "Algerie" [repeat] "Algerie" [and] "Jules Verne" [repeat] "Jules Verne" [en route] from Casablanca to Gibraltar. English "Afric Star" [repeat] "Afric Star" with two stern guns departed Tenerife on 9/12 for Buenos Aires.

Notes:

  • It seems that at that time the Kriegsmarine was using only eight plugboard pairs, instead of ten in their Enigma settings.

  • The message is addressed to the famous heavy cruiser "Admiral Graf Spee", and was sent just one day before her fateful encounter with the British Royal Navy in the Battle of the River Plate.

  • The "Afric Star" heading from Tenerife to Buenos Aires. That would have been in Graf Spee's general area of operations, and so would have been of interest to her commander (Hans Langsdorff). The other British and French ships, mentioned in the message, operated in the Mediterranean and near Scotland.

  • The Admiral Graf Spee on Wikipedia Link