Enigma Day at Dauntsey’s

Organised by the Maths Department, Dr James Grime from Cambridge University visited Dauntsey’s earlier this week with his Enigma machine to explore code-breaking with the Second Form.

“On October 20th, 2015, Dr James Grime gave a talk about decoding and the history of the enigma machine. The morning consisted of interesting facts about how the enigma machine was created by Alan Turing, a mathematician and decoder. This followed by information about how the enigma machine worked and how Britain decoded the encrypted messages that the German Nazis thought were impossible to break.

In order to understand the enigma machine, not only did you need the enigma machine itself, but a complex code book that explained what setting you should change the device to each day as, as an extra precaution, the coding changed each day.” Caitlin Clark

“On, the 20th of October, Dr James Grime visited Dauntsey's to give us a taste of the life of espionage - more specifically, code breaking. The Second Form met in the Memorial Hall and listened to a fascinating talk about codes and who used them. We learnt about Mary, Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth. While in prison, she wrote coded messages to Sir Anthony Babbington. They were rolled up and hidden in the cork of her beer bottles. A maid took them out and gave them to Babbington. Fortunately for Queen Elizabeth, the maid was a double agent who copied the message to code-breakers for Queen Elizabeth. Eventually, the plot was revealed and both Mary and Babbington were beheaded.” Tabby Spindler

“We started the discussion talking about different methods of opening locked box's and spies and how they kept everything secret. We then followed onto how the Spartans would send their secret messages which was shaving a slave's head and then tattooing the message onto his head, waiting for the hair to grow back and then sending the slave to the recipient. Which, we concluding was not the most effective or time efficient way of sending codes.”

“Later on in the day, the Second Form was split back up into classes and they each had an individual lesson on code breaking where we were put into pairs and given many codes which we had to solve which was very entertaining and fun.

Overall, I really enjoyed the day and I hope that we have more like it!” Sasha Broadhead

“We also talked about the enigma machine and how it saved allot of lives in ww2 and shortened the war by 2 years. we also talked about the man who made the first enigma machine, Alan Turing, and his work and colleagues at the secret place they broke the codes 'station x'.

I thought it was really interesting and really showed me how much effort it took and how important the enigma machine was to the war. It also showed me how important and useful coding and code breaking is.” Philippa Abel