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From the memoirs of David Irving

Written in Vienna prison, 2006. Posted here Friday, March 14, 2008

The Scoop (extract)


R V JonesIN that unlocked Oxford basement [in 1963] I had inevitably stumbled upon clues to Enigma and the Ultra secret, and within weeks I had unravelled it. In the inner machinery of the British Intelligence establishment, wheels began to whir, as its files transferred to the PRO now show. The next time Professor R. V. Jones, the scientific Intelligence chief (right), came to us for dinner, I put my problem to him more squarely, with some judicious questioning. He again sternly refused to talk about codebreaking. I picked away at him, as I had picked at that crumbling lathe-and-plaster wall as an infant. He had claimed in an August 1944 report to have calculated V-2 rocket production from freight dockets captured by British agents; the serial numbers had started from a base of 17,000.

"Those freight dockets, they never existed, did they," I challenged him.

By chance I already knew that, from the German Abwehr files -- the Abwehr had directed that all secret rocket shipments were to proceed unaccompanied by any paperwork, and the discrepancy in Jones's report had puzzled me. The little pile of plaster on the floor was growing.

"You were reading the coded radio signals passed between Blizna proving ground and Peenemünde."

Jones went visibly pink, and mopped his forehead. "I cannot comment," he said in a strangled voice. "And whatever you have or have not learned, you did not get it from me." That clinched it.

I Enigma machinenow had enough to rewrite the opening of this V-weapons book. I called that chapter simply, "Enigma." The whole typescript went off to Kimber's.

Right: An Enigma code machine   

Under my arrangements with the government, a copy had to go to the Cabinet Office for vetting. A loud alarm bell evidently rang somewhere very soon after that. Within a very few days the authorities carried out simultaneous raids on my flat and William Kimber's offices [my publisher]. Two or three gentlemen in belted raincoats called without warning at our flat in Paddington. They relieved my file cabinet of the offending first chapter [of my book The Mare's Nest], titled "Enigma," and all the supporting working papers they could find, and all its carbon copies (I retained one, I forget how).

A few days later I was hauled before a board meeting in the Cabinet Office, presided over by Sir Burke Trend, the Cabinet Secretary, and attended by several unidentified men with somber countenances. I guessed that one was a Mr Geoffrey Evans -- I noted down his name as he had signed in before me; his entry described him as security chief of "GCHQ" at Cheltenham.* Those initials meant nothing to me.

Evans commanded me never, ever, to reveal the Ultra secret. "We take particular exception to any use of that word, or the word Enigma," he said.

I asked curiously why the secret had to be kept even now, twenty years after the war. The men looked at each other, then one replied that at the war's end the British troops had gathered in the German Enigma code machines, and they had sold them extensively to Third World countries, assuring them that the resulting codes were unbreakable.

The words perfidious and Albion trotted jointly into my mind. I suppressed a grin at the thought of all those worthy natives plotting secretly against the Empire. Evans now appealed to me as an English gentleman, with some effect; more compelling was the weight of a throwaway line he added to the effect that I had got the incredible story all wrong (I had not, it turned out) and I would therefore just be making myself a laughing stock.

The Ultra Secret remained unrevealed until 1974 when Wing Commander F. W. Winterbotham was allowed to publish a book of that name (I had introduced him to Kimber's, who published his first book but inexplicably passed on The Ultra Secret, a huge best seller). They learned Harcourt's identity, but they did not discover my file on him. After the secret was finally released in 1974, I turned it over to Ronald Lewin and to others who wrote on it.

* Government Communications Headquarters, the British counterpart of the US National Security Agency. Newspapers were forbidden by D-notice to mention the existence of GCHQ.

© 2008 Copyright David Irving / Focal Point Publications


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