NCZW VUSX PNYM INHZ XMQX SFWX WLKJ AHSH NMCO CCAK UQPM KCSM HKSE INJU SBLK IOSX CKUB HMLL XCSJ USRR DVKO HULX WCCB GVLI YXEO AHXR HKKF VDRE WEZL XOBA FGYU JQUK GRTV UKAM EURB VEKS UHHV OYHA BCJW MAKL FKLM YFVN RIZR VVRT KOFD ANJM OLBG FFLE OPRG TFLV RHOW OPBE KVWM UQFM PWPA RMFH AGKX IIBG
Enigma model: Kriegsmarine M4
Rotors: Beta - II - IV - I
Stecker: AT BL DF GJ HM NW OP QY RZ VX
Rotor startposition: V-J-N-A
Be sure to adjust all these settings on the Enigma Simulator before deciphering the message! After adjusting the internal and plugboard settings, set the rotors to the startposition VJNA, and start deciphering. You can use the keyboard or machine key buttons, or copy the ciphertext into the Auto-typing window (menu or F6) of the simulator. The result can be viewed and formatted with the Enigma Clipboard (menu or F5). Success with breaking your first authentic Kriegsmarine U-boat message!
This is a spoiler!
If you want to break this Kriegsmarine message yourself, don't proceed reading before you have deciphered the ciphertext.
The message after deciphering on the Enigma:
VONV ONJL OOKS JHFF TTTE INSE INSD REIZ WOYY QNNS NEUN INHA LTXX BEIA NGRI FFUN TERW ASSE RGED RUEC KTYW ABOS XLET ZTER GEGN ERST ANDN ULAC HTDR EINU LUHR MARQ UANT ONJO TANE UNAC HTSE YHSD REIY ZWOZ WONU LGRA DYAC HTSM YSTO SSEN ACHX EKNS VIER MBFA ELLT YNNN NNNO OOVI ERYS ICHT EINS NULL
The plain text rearranged:
VON VON JLOOKSJ HFFTTT EINS EINS DREI ZWO YY QNNS NEUN INHALT XX BEI ANGRIFF UNTER WASSER GEDRUECKT Y WABOS X LETZTER GEGNERSTAND NUL ACHT DREI NUL UHR MARQU ANTON JOTA NEUN ACHT SEYHS DREI Y ZWO ZWO NUL GRAD Y ACHT SM Y STOSSE NACH X EKNS VIER MB FAELLT Y NNN NNN OOO VIER Y SICHT EINS NULL
After converting abbreviations, spelled numbers and so on, the message appears:
Von Looks: Funktelegramm 1132/19
Bei Angriff unter Wasser gedrueckt, Wasserbomben. Letzter Gegnerstandort 08:30 Uhr, Marine Quadrat AJ 9863, 220 Grad, 8 Seemeilen, stosse nach. 14 Millibar faellt, NNO 4, Sicht 10.
Translated into English:
From Looks: Radio signal 1132/19
Forced to submerge during attack, depth charges. Last enemy location 08:30h, Naval Grid AJ 9863, 220 degrees, 8 nautical miles, (I am) following (the enemy). (Barometer) 1014 Millibar (tendency) falling, North North East 4, visibility 10.
Who is Looks, and where did the message came from? I did some research and discovered the amazing history of Looks and his U-boat. The archives show us that the message is written by Kapitänleutnant Hartwig Looks, born on June 27, 1917 in Flensburg. At age 25 he took command of U-264, a type VIIC boat laid in Bremen in 1941. The message was probably sent by one of the radio operators, Funkobergefreiter Hans Ewald, Funkobergefreiter Otto Karsten or Oberfunkmeister Ulrich Reimund, on their first patrol.
Between November 1942 and February 1944 U-264 sailed out on six patrols. U-264 operated from the U-boat harbor in St-Nazaire, France. On its first patrol, U-264 sank the Greek 'Mount Taurus' in convoy ONS-144. On its second and third patrol the U-boat came under attack from aircraft fire several times without any damage. On the third patrol U-264 sank the British 'Harperley' and the American 'West Maximus', both in convoy ONS-5.
On February 5, 1944, U-264 left St-Nazaire for its seventh and fatal patrol. U-264 was one of 20 U-boats ordered to sweep area 48°30'N-21°30'W in search of a reported convoy. U-264 arrived at the location in the North Atlantic on February 18th. U-boat command ordered it to submerge during daytime and surface after 18.00h to search for the convoy. At 09.00h, propeller noise was heard and ASDIC sonar located the U-boat. Depth charges were dropped but U-264 only took very little damage. The attacking boat left to the south-west. U-264 surfaced as ordered at 18.00h and mounted the FLAK anti aircraft gun. Ten minutes later, a Sunderland aircraft was spotted and U-264 returned fire with the FLAK gun. The first burst of fire was fatal and another U-boat reported that the aircraft crashed into the ocean.
The next morning, February 19th at 02.00h, U-264 spotted two enemy destroyers and reported this by radio with a short signal message. U-264, still surfaced, was detected by the destroyers radar and received artillery fire. U-264 managed to get away at high speed. At 04.00h they received a message that the convoy was located and U-264 sailed at high speed to the presumed location. At 05.30h, still very dark, a destroyer headed at high speed towards U-264. At 2000 meters U-264 fired a torpedo, missing the destroyer, and sped away from the enemy. At that moment, U-264 spotted the convoy and reported this with a short signal message. At 800 meters the destroyer opened fire at the U-boat and hit the U-boat's diving tanks. The U-boat's hull was not damaged and the order was given to dive immediately. The destroyer dropped several depth charges and stayed on the spot until 06.00h, when she was joined by five other ships that protected convoy ON-224. The five Sloops were HMS Woodpecker, HMS Starling, HMS Kite, HMS Wren and HMS Wild Goose, all specialized in destroying U-boats.
U-264 took many series of mine-depth-charges, a new type of depth charges that detonated at 300 meters instead of the usual 120 meters, hitting the U-boat bottom with devastating shockwaves from beneath. U-264 sustained heavy damage. At 13.00h, the destroyers lost track of U-264, but found her again at 18.00h because of a wide oil trace, left behind by U-264 on the surface. 24 more depth charges were dropped on U-264. Since early that morning, 250 depth charges were dropped near the U-264!
Meanwhile at U-264, all electronics were lost and many water leaks were reported. The main pumps could not keep up with the raising water and a bent port side propeller axle caused the port side electric motor to overheat and caught fire. The starboard propeller was jammed completely. U-264 was out of control and sank to a depth of 230 meter. Kapitänleutnant Hartwig Looks gave the order to blow the air tanks and surface.
As they surfaced, the five sloops were in a circle of 3000 meter and immediately opened fire .U-264 could not return fire or use any torpedo since the torpedo hatches were jammed. Kapitänleutnant Looks gave the order to leave the boat. With the port side engine still rotating the U-boat, still under artillery fire, put more and more distance between itself and the men in the water. U-264 sank in the early evening of February 19th at position 48°31'N-22°05'W. Looks and all crew members, 52 men in total, were picked up by HMS Woodpecker. There were no casualties and only two sailors had minor injuries.
The crew of U-264 survived their incredible nightmare of depth charges and spent the rest of the war as prisoners, unlike many other U-boats crews. An estimated 700 German U-boats and 30,000 crew men were lost at sea.
I would like to express my gratitude to Stefan Krah for the permission to use the first message as an example in this article. More information on the M4 Message Breaking Project and the original messages can be found on Stefan Krah's Website. On his site you can see the server logs and download the software to help him break the last message. You can also subscribe to Stefan's mailing list. If you want to use the contents of this article, please contact Stefan Krah for his permission.
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