Review of THE IMITATION GAME
No one should hurry out to see The Imitation Game, the new British production about the World War Two program surrounding intelligence involving the Enigma machine.
Previous British movies and TV productions have centered on the Enigma machine: Enigma (2001) and Bletchley Park (2011). There is a little known British movie: Men are trained and become transvestites to be dropped into Germany and to get employed in the factory making Enigma Machines, steal the machine… The last movie is cute and complete shameful.
The Enigma machine provided the British and Americans with intelligence, Ultra, knowledge of German military maneuvers and planning. Before June 21, 1941 the British told the Russians invasion is upon you. The Russians ignored it. Montgomery and his planners ignored Enigmas intercepts before invading Belgium and the southern Netherlands in September 1944. It is a reason that military operation failed.
Enigmas is credited with winning the Battle of the Atlantic, safeguarding convoys. That is wrong. The reason the British needed intelligence was their own codes were being read, almost in real time, by the Germans. The intelligence advantage of Enigma was mostly a wash. What won the Battle of the Atlantic was equipment and men. Much of the equipment and weapons, radar/sonar were of British origin advanced further by the Americans. The primary equipment was ships, American produced destroyers and especially escort carriers. The British had the best submarine hunter, Johnnie Walker whom they did not promote. The Americans were very aggressive. That’s why a full U-boat is on exhibit in a museum in Chicago.
Before World War Two the Americans had decrypted the Japanese diplomatic code in real time. Those intercepts were called Magic. The Americans were working on decrypting the Japanese Navel Codes, one intercept leading to the first complete allied victory of the war: Midway. The Americans started from scratch.
With Enigma the British started at the 50 yard line in the 100 yard dash. Poland and the Polish people. In mid-August 1939 Polish intelligence invited French and British intelligence over to the office and said, “Look what we have.” During the previous decade the Poles had workers in the Enigma factory; they had a machine in Warsaw; they had analyzed it operations and its potentialities. The British and French both said, We want it. The Poles shared, and when they were losing and were conquered in the next six weeks, the Poles erased all trace of their enigma intelligence operation: equipment, papers, people. Some Poles ended up in France and later England.
To my knowledge the French have been considerate and gracious not to claim credit in movies or on TV for any Enigma feats. No so the British who won the War by decrypting Enigma intelligence. I’m tired of British hero movies about Enigma. It’s time for the Brits to fess up. The Poles did it.