Book Review-‘Enigma: The untold story of the secret capture’ by D. Balme ed. by P. Hore

By Eric C. Rust, published November 2020


Anyone even vaguely familiar with the Battle of the Atlantic knows the story of U110. The boat’s capture on 9 May 1941, by an armed boarding party under 20-year old Sub-lieutenant David E. Balme of the destroyer HMS Bulldog, produced an unparalleled cryptanalytic bonanza for the British code-breakers at Bletchley Park that changed the trajectory of the war. Precise details of this extraordinary feat are of rather recent origin, however, as strict British secrecy rules delayed public disclosure of them into the 1970s and beyond. Balme, sworn to secrecy like every other witness of the incident, died in 2016 aged 95 after a long and fulfilled life. He never chose to tell his story in a major publication. Instead it has been left to retired Royal Navy Captain Peter Hore to piece together from official reports, shorter summaries, letters, recordings and other sources the recollections and amazing career of this genuine but quiet and unassuming hero. Whenever possible and appropriate Hore allows Balme’s own words – typically plain, unemotional and straightforward – to reach and touch the reader while embedding them in a skilfully crafted narrative that provides context and historical assessment…

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Filed under: Atlantic | WW2
Subjects include: Biography | Submarines

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