Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Enigma cogs 'found in cupboard' reunited with machine

A set of cogs from a WWII Enigma code-breaking machine which were discovered after languishing in a cupboard for up to 30 years
Image caption Historians say breaking the Enigma ciphers shortened the war

A set of cogs from a World War II Enigma code-breaking machine have been reunited with the unit after languishing in a cupboard.

The three rotors were discovered at the Royal Navy training establishment HMS Collingwood in Fareham, Hampshire.

They were found to have come from an Enigma machine once kept at the centre which had been donated to the National Museum of the Royal Navy in 1983.

The rotors have now also been given to the museum in Portsmouth.

The handover marked the 71st anniversary of the Royal Navy's first capture of a fully functioning Enigma machine on 9 May 1941.

When they first found the rotors, Chief Petty Officer Craig Read and Petty Officer Dan Powditch thought they were imitations.

Norwegian Harbour Police

They put them back into the cupboard being used to store flags in the old HMS Mercury building and forgot about them.

Image caption The Enigma machine works using a series of rotating "wheels" or "rotors"

But several weeks later they re-examined them and showed them to a colleague, Chief Petty Officer Jack Goozee.

After some research they discovered the rotors had been spares for a type M4 Enigma machine, which had probably been used by the Norwegian Harbour Police and later kept at the centre.

Richard Noyce, curator of artefacts at the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), said: "The number M15653 on the machine matches the number on the box of rotors and the box is stamped with 'Kommando der Marine Sation Der 021' albeit smudged and difficult to read.

"With both items originating from HMS Mercury I think there can be no doubt the Enigma machine and its spare rotors were originally together.

"We are thrilled to be reuniting them again as they are a key part of our history."

The German military used the Enigma cipher machine during World War II to keep their communications secret.

It works using a series of rotating "wheels" or "rotors" to scramble plaintext messages into incoherent ciphertext with billions of combinations possible.

A NMRN spokesman said: "Breaking the Enigma ciphers gave the Allies a key advantage, which, according to historians, shortened the war by two years, thus saving many lives."

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