Inside the shadow world of signals intelligence in Australia’s two Bletchley Parks
By Craig Collie
Published by Allen & Unwin
RRP $32.99 in paperback • ISBN 9781743312100
Reviewed by guest reviewer Kylie Leonard
For more than 40 years the feats and accomplishments of the men and women of D Section and Central Bureau remained classified. Their roles in cracking Japanese codes and signals was a secret guarded by the Crimes Act following the end of World War II. Craig Collie brings to light the work of these brilliant but eccentric people in a very readable, well written and entertaining, novel style book.
Based in Melbourne’s Albert Park and at Ascot Race Course in Brisbane, teams of cryptographers were drawn from diverse backgrounds, from the military to academia.
Their achievements were often undermined due to personal rivalries, conflicting agendas, and national pride or clouded by so many layers of misdirection that their involvement in the battles of Midway and the Coral Sea, the invasion of the Philippines and the shooting down of Admiral Yamamoto was never acknowledged, the credit for Allied success often being given to others.
Collie has drawn on many sources for this thoroughly researched but highly readable book. The destruction of nearly all of the documents generated by the D Section and Central Bureau and the post war embargo has left gaps in history as the protagonists pass-on and memories fade and become faulty.
“And that’s the paradox of the shadow world of signals intelligence: the work done there can reverse the destiny of armies and nations, yet more often than not, those who do it are lost to history”.
In this book Collie has done much to fill in the gaps and to recognise the crucial roles played by those who worked in the shadows.