Spanish Civil War Enigma machine given to Bletchley Park

The Spanish Enigma machine is presented to Bletchley Park.  GCHQ Historian Tony, Attache at the Spanish Embassy in London Fernando Agilera and Ian Standen CEO of Bletchley Park Trust
The Spanish Enigma machine is presented to Bletchley Park. GCHQ Historian Tony, Attache at the Spanish Embassy in London Fernando Agilera and Ian Standen CEO of Bletchley Park Trust
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A RARE Enigma machine used in the Spanish Civil War has been handed over to the Bletchley Park Trust.

It is one of two machines that were given to the British communications intelligence agency, GCHQ, by its Spanish counterpart in March.

The Enigma machine was used by the German military in the Second World War to encode radio messages. The ciphers were cracked by Codebreakers at Bletchley park, shortening the war by about two years.

The encryption devices were originally developed for the German banking industry in the 1920s, but were bought by the German military.

The first version of the Enigma - known as the ‘Glow-Lamp Machine’ came onto the market in 1926.

It wasn’t long afterwards that Lieutenant Commander Edward Travis, the deputy director of the British Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) bought a machine and brought it back to the UK. That machine is also on display at Bletchley Park.

In November 1936, General Franco, reaalising that he needed secure communications to direct his forces in the Spanish Civil War, ordered ten Enigma machines.

In 1937, he ordered another batch and German and Italian forces fighting on his side would use similar machines to communicate with Franco’s forces.

These communications were picked up by cryptographer Dilly Knox – who had already been studying the Enigma acquired by Edwards Travis – at GC&CS.

When it was realised that Franco and Benito Mussolini were using the same machines and key settings, a new Spanish section was set up to monitor their traffic.

The information gained was used during the Second World War when Italy declared war. The Italians were still using the same machine and in March 1941 the Codebreakers were able to warn Admiral Cunningham of the time and place of a major assault, resulting in victory at the Battle of Matapan.

The two Spanish machines were found by a non-commissioned officer in a secret room inside the Spanish Ministry of Defence in Madrid.

In March this year they were transferred to GCHQ and yesterday the single machine was passed onto the Bletchley Park, where it will remain on display in the museum.