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Thread: ULTRA at Malta

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    Default ULTRA at Malta

    Hi guys



    Does anyone know when Malta first started receiving information via Ultra decrypts? I am aware that the receiving unit was in place by mid-1941 but was it available before then?



    Cheers

    Brian

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    Brian, Hi,
    Interesting thread.
    You state that the "receiving unit" was in place by mid-1941. Receiving what?
    In Op MERCURY the Germans had just captured Crete in May 41 without too much difficulty (some of our Met staff had been taken PoW). Although we did not know it at the time the Germans were very wary of launching another Para assault - but Malta was the obvious target?!!
    The "receiving unit" (probably called "Combined Services Commcen", or similar) was in place. But was it just a receiving Unit intercepting Axis radio traffic for onward transmission to Bletchley? I doubt very much if it would have been, routinely, receiving ULTRA decrypts. After all, you did not want a bunch of German Paras bursting in and discovering that the Allies were listening to, and decrypting, some Axis signals before, even, the addressed recipient had seen the 'page copy'!! "Combined Services" facilties - of one sort, or another - usually indicated "spooks", or some sort of "cloak & dagger" operations.
    The Governor, GOC, and/or AOC, Malta would, most likely, only have been in receipt of highly classified signals indicating that a "most trusted source" was "fairly certain" that a "raid, or convoy" would take place at "location X" and at "date/time Y". The individuals concerned would, no doubt, have been personally 'indoctrinated' into what all these confuscations actually meant! But to have ULTRA signal page copies lying about is taking things a bit far?
    All, still, mostly in the "smoke & mirrors" areas!! But very interested in opinions on this thread!
    Rgds
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Default Ultra at Malta

    Hi Peter

    Thanks for your interesting response. This is what I have, extracted from notes received many moons ago:


    A Special Liaison Unit had been established on Malta, responsible for receiving, distributing and ensuring the secrecy of ULTRA signals transmitted from England; the unit operated at the War HQ in Lascaris, situated beneath the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta. Lt-Cdr Charles Carnes, Decyphering Officer to the Office of Vice-Admiral Malta, recalled:

    ‘We in Malta were receiving very brief terse messages from a source unknown to me, regarding titbits of most useful information about the movement of enemy ships, convoys, submarines and aircraft, and also hints of possible attacks on islands in the Mediterranean. One must bear in mind that in England they were decyphering a portion of enemy traffic and from this decyphering and re-translation of this traffic, information concerning the Mediterranean was evident. This information was passed to Vice-Admiral Malta who selected me to do the decyphering; the contents of these messages were passed to the Governor, the Air Officer Commanding, the Staff Officer Intelligence on the staff of the Vice-Admiral and to a major of the Royal Marines. But I did not know that these were intercepts of enemy messages; I was told that this was in fact information from an enemy spy in Naples ... We did get two or three messages through this source suggesting there were going to be raids. For example, when Crete was invaded we got a message through ULTRA sources that an island was about to be invaded. Nobody knew which island it was. Consequently Malta was put on alert but, fortunately for the Island, it proved to be Crete. We also got a hint sometime in July 1941 that there was going to be another raid which we assumed was going to be on Malta, more so as a convoy was due in the middle of the month and the Admiral said, ‘Well, if there is a convoy coming in here, we’ve got to be prepared to protect it by all means at our disposal.’ He ordered all coastal gunners, including the Royal Malta Artillery, to stand-by, sleeping at their guns, ready at a moment’s notice to open fire to repulse any possible raid on the Grand Harbour.'

    Cheers
    Brian

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