Spare Enigma machine parts found in Collingwood cupboard

Picture: Malcolm Wells

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A SET of cogs from the Second World War Enigma code-breaking machine has been discovered after languishing in a cupboard for decades.

The three rotors were found at HMS Collingwood, Fareham, in a cupboard used to store flags and equipment.

At first, Chief Petty Officer Craig Read and Petty Officer Dan Powditch thought they were imitations and put them back into storage in the old HMS Mercury building.

It is now believed the items were spares for an Enigma machine which used to be kept at the naval establishment and was donated to the National Museum of the Royal Navy in 1983.

Now the box of three rotors is to be reunited with the machine when they are donated to the museum on Wednesday – the 71st anniversary of the Royal Navy’s first capture of a fully functioning Enigma machine.

Richard Noyce, curator at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, said: ‘The number M15653 on the machine matches the number on the box of rotors and the box is stamped with ‘Kommando der Marine Sation Der 021’, albeit smudged and difficult to read.

‘With both items originating from HMS Mercury I think there can be no doubt the Enigma machine and its spare rotors were originally together.

‘We are thrilled to be reuniting them again as they are a key part of our history.’

The German military used the Enigma cipher machine during the Second World War to keep their communications secret.

It uses rotors to scramble plain text messages into cipher text, with billions of combinations possible.

A museum spokesman said: ‘Breaking the Enigma ciphers gave the Allies a key advantage, which, according to historians, shortened the war by two years, thus saving many lives.’