AbstractHistorians for decades have placed Room 40, the First World War British naval signals intelligence organization, at the centre of narratives about the British anticipation of and response to the Easter Rising in Ireland in 1916. A series of crucial decrypts of telegrams between the German embassy in Washington and Berlin, it has been believed, provided significant advance intelligence about the Rising before it took place. This article upends previous accounts by demonstrating that Room 40 possessed far less advance knowledge about the Rising than has been believed, with most of the supposedly key decrypts not being generated until months after the Rising had taken place.
British codebreaking and American diplomatic telegrams, 1914–1915
AbstractDuring the First World War, British intelligence solved the United States' diplomatic codes and were reading its diplomatic telegrams transmitted between Washington and US diplomatic outposts throughout Europe. Controversy has emerged over when the British succeeded in solving these codes, with two historians relatively recently having claimed that British intelligence succeeded in doing so from the beginning of the war or soon after. Through a thorough consideration of the available documentation, this piece aims to correct these mistaken claims and to date the completion of the British solving of American codebooks to the middle phase of the war, to between October 1915 and January 1916. It seeks to lay reliable foundations for further work by showing that research into the wartime impact of British signals’ intelligence on Anglo-American relations is necessarily limited to only the middle and later phases of the war.
- Intelligence & National Security
- Citations: 2
- Jan 10, 2017