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The Secret Capture (Paperback)

U-110 and the Enigma Story

WWII Seaforth: General Seaforth

By Stephen Roskill, Introduction by Barry Gough
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 176
Illustrations: 16 black and white
ISBN: 9781526781789
Published: 30th April 2020

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For fifteen years after the end of the war all official Admiralty records showed the German submarine U 110 as sunk on 9 May 1941 by the surface escorts of convoy OB.318. As this book was the first to reveal, this was a deliberate deception, as the U-boat was actually captured and its contents fully investigated before being allowed to sink a day later, a fact skilfully kept from even the survivors of the submarines crew. As the official historian of the naval war, Roskill had followed the party line when writing his authorised account, but provoked by exaggerated claims concerning a US Navy capture of a U-boat in 1944, Roskill decided to set the record straight. His narrative is prefaced by brief coverage of previous submarine captures by the Royal Navy - three Italian and one German - before covering the U 110 operation in great detail, underlining the skill and bravery of those involved. We now know that the reason for the secrecy was that the U-boat gave up valuable codebooks, charts, ciphers and, most significantly, a complete and undamaged Enigma machine. At the time of the books first publication, Ultra was still a secret, so Roskill (who clearly knew about it) had to be discreet about the exact details of what was taken from the submarine while insisting on its crucial value to the war effort. However, a new introduction puts the capture into context, making clear its vital importance in the history of allied codebreaking in World War Two.

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About Stephen Roskill

STEPHEN ROSKILL a retired RN captain, was the author of the official history of the Second World War at sea. He later wrote a number of highly regarded books, including a biography of Admiral Beatty and a study of Churchill and the admirals.


About Barry Gough

BARRY GOUGH was professor of history at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario until retirement in 2004. An expert on the maritime history of the Pacific Ocean, he has published widely on Anglo-Canadian naval subjects. His dual biography, Historical Dreadnoughts Marder and Roskill, was published by Seaforth in 2010.

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