Ellen Sandor, Fernando Orellana, TJ McLeish, Pete Latrofa, Jack Ludden, Nichole Maury, Todd Margolis, Mike Kosmatka, Janine Fron and Stephan Meyers
Special acknowledgement to Ed Fox, all of the Battle of Midway veterans, historians, friends, and members of the Internet's Battle of Midway Roundtable, who helped provide the photos, stories and facts from the Battle of Midway for this memorial installation.
Duratrans, Kodalith, Plexiglas
The Battle of Midway Exhibit is located just through the security checkpoint and to the left, at the beginning of Concourse A, just across from the Midway Boulevard Food Court. (Please note that due to new Federal Security guidelines only ticketed passengers and badged employees are allowed beyond the security checkpoint.)
The Battle of Midway Memorial was commissioned by the Public Art Program, Department of Aviation, and City of Chicago, Richard M. Daley, Mayor.
This panel is dedicated to COMINT, U.S. Naval Communications Intelligence, whose cryptology efforts enabled Admiral Nimitz to commit the U.S. forces that brought victory at Midway.
Featuring historic photographs from top left to right:
Crew of the Patrol Squadron 23 (VP-23) PBY-5A
Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz
Agnes Meyer Driscoll (the "Mother of Cryptology")
LCDR Joseph J. Rochefort, USN
Office of Codebreakers
Agnes Meyer Driscoll: The First Lady of Naval Cryptology
Agnes Meyer Driscoll not only avoided the spotlight, she almost never permitted herself to be photographed. In this rare picture, she was photographed with Mrs. Helen L. Talley at Mrs. Talley's retirement ceremony 28 February 1958. Mrs. Talley had worked for Director Naval Communications, Armed Forces Security Agency and Naval Security Activity since 1928. Then Director, National Security Agency General Samford on left, Mrs. Talley in the center and Mrs. Driscoll on the right. After her serious automobile accident Mrs. Driscoll used a cane.
FIRST LADY OF NAVAL CRYPTOLOGY
By Ray Schmidt
(Reprinted by permission: Naval Security Group Bulletin)
Mrs. Agnes (Meyer) Driscoll must have been a welcome person at Main Navy Building on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. during the late 1920's and 19-30's. She helped to train Navy officers and civilians in the art of cryptanalysis (including the late Captain Laurance F. Safford, who first assumed direction of the "Research Desk" of the Code and Signal Section in OPNAV). After World War I, Mrs. Driscoll achieved recognition as a ''principal cryptanalyst' for the Navy. She served in that capacity until December 1950, when she accepted a transfer to the Armed Forces Security Agency. She retired from active federal service on 31 July 1959.
Miss Agnes May Meyer entered the Naval Reserve in June 1918. In July 1919 she accepted a lob as a stenographer for the Director of Naval Communications (DNC) in the Code and Signal Section at an annual salary of $1,500. Working up to the position of clerk in 1920, she subsequently resigned in 1923 to evaluate a new electric cipher machine for Mr. Edward Hebern. She solved a message in his "unbreakable cipher" and was on her way to becoming a code and cipher expert.
On 1 August 1924 Miss Meyer returned to the Department of the Navy; she never left government employment - until her retirement. A government accounting office memorandum of 6 May 1925 shows her as a cryptanalyst earning $1,860* annually. In the mid 1930's she testified before the senate Naval Affairs Committee that she had assisted the late William P. Gresham in developing a secure cipher machine for the Navy. The Senate appears to nave believed her and awarded $15,000 to her and Gresham's widow. Not only was she qualified as a cryptanalyst, but also she obviously had skill as a cryptographer.
Agnes Meyer had earned an undergraduate degree from Ohio State University in 1911. As a first generation American citizen, she took obvious pride in her naval service during the "Great War". One of her personal data sheets lists special qualifications in physics, engineering, mathematics, statistics, auditing, bookkeeping, typing, and clerical work. She also possessed musical talent, having served as Director of Music in a small Texas school from 1912 to 1915. Then she became head of the mathematics department of an Amarillo, Texas high school until enlisting in the Naval Reserve during the war. It is interesting to note that she qualified in four languages-German, French, Latin and Japanese.
Agnes Driscoll deserves recognition as a "plank owner" in the naval cryptologic organization. Her abilities and skills as a cryptologist were widely respected by several generations of naval and NSA Colleagues. Although her technical contributions to the United States have not been reclaimed from historical records, they obviously deserve far more space than permitted in this article. It is characteristic of her cheerful modesty that she described her job simply as one involving "scientific duties".
It would be sad, indeed, if Mrs. Agnes May Meyer Driscoll were to be forgotten by the present generation of cryptologists. We may very well owe her a professional debt that can only be repaid by continuing her rather awesome legacy of devotion and technical competence.
* Better than average salary for the year 1925.
NCVA CRYPTOLOG, Corvallis, Oregon August Special 1988
AGNES MEYER DRISCOLL
BY LIEUTENANT SUSAN M. LUJAN, USNR
Editor's note: LT Lujan submitted this research paper as an entry to the "Rear Admiral Don H. McDowell Essay" contest. The contest was initiated by the Naval Security Group to "stimulate critical thinking, to Improve writing skills and to foster an appreciation for the historical development of the cryptologic profession among junior cryptologic officer's.." Submission of an essay is a graduation requirement of the Cryptologic Division Officer Course at Naval Security Group Headquarters,
(CRYPTOLOG, Fall, 1987, p2) Reprinted by permission of Commander, Naval Security Group Command.
As history is rewrite ten with the declassification of previously classified information, people who were once "behind the scenes" arc often revealed to be he roes who provided information and services to military and political leaders which allowed those leaders to make decisions based on in sightful judgments, Mrs. Agnes May (Meyer) Driscoll spent forty-one years of devoted government service from 1918 to 1959 in the field of cryptology. She was often the first in a group of skilled analysts to break new systems and codes considered milestones in the history of the field, including solutions to the Hebern cipher machine, the Japanese Orange Grand Naval Maneuvers cipher, the Japanese "Red Book" and "Blue Book" super encipherments, and more. Due to the sensitive nature of her work, Mrs. Driscoll led a private lifestyle characterized by anonymity. Thus, time and lack of documentation have obscured some aspects of her life, making her as mysterious in some ways as the cryptanalysts she performed. This paper is a tribute to this remarkable historical character.
I. EARLY LIFE
Agnes May Meyer was born on 24 July 1889 in Geneseo, Illinois and was raised there by her parents, Dr. Gustav Frederick Meyer (PhD) and Lucy Andrews Shaw Meyer. She attended Otterbein College from 1907 to l909 and later received an A.B. degree from Ohio State University in 1911; her main undergraduate subjects were mathematics, physics, music, and languages. Interestingly, in the context of the era, Miss Meyer was an atypical woman since she pursued technical subjects. As recently as a hundred years ago, it was assumed that because men are larger and heavier their brains must be larger and heavier too. " (1)
After college, Miss Meyer moved to Amarillo, Texas, where she worked at Lowry Phillips Military Academy as Director of Music from 1911 to 1914. She was later the Head of the Mathematics Department at Amarillo High School from 1914 to 1918.
II. WORLD WAR I
Woodrow Wilson won his second term on the slogan, "He kept us out of war." Shortly after his inauguration in 1917, however, the United States entered World War I.
Rapid wartime expansion rocked the country which had already been experiencing a growing labor shortage. "While the general citizenry was not aware in 1916 of how great was the probability of the United States being drawn into the war in Europe, the military in this country was already involved in preparations that had to be made if we were not to be caught short in an emergency. This was particularly true of the leadership of the Navy. (2)
The shortage of personnel to do work that was immediately necessary was a problem that the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels solved with a far-reaching decision:
'Is there any law that says a yeoman must be a man'? I asked my legal advisers. The answer was that there was not but only men had heretofore been enlisted. The law did not say 'male'. "Then enroll women in the Naval Reserve as yeomen,' I said. (3) Although the enrollment of women in the Navy was shocking, women from all points of the compass answered the "Call to Colors". Agnes May Meyer, a first generation American, was one of those answering the call, and she was recruited in the highest rating obtainable for a woman in World War I, Chief Yeoman (F). Recruiting in such a rating was only done in a few instances. "Other qualifications being equal, in the selection of chief yeoman, preference was given to those who had a working knowledge edge of Stenography." (4) Stenography was but one of Miss Meyer's talents. In addition, she had a background in statistics, math, physics, engineering, clerical skills, teaching, and was proficient in German, French, Latin, and Japanese. She enlisted on 22 June 1918 and began active duty on 23 July 1918. She worked in communications, where she began her career as a cryptographer , and cryptanalyst.
With demobilization, the government gave the yeoman (F) an option: "All Yeoman (F) on duty in the Navy department who do not desire to accept civil service appointments will be released by July 15th or as soon thereafter as your office can handle the releases. . . . Those who accept civil service appointments will be released from active duty as reservists on July 31st, and their civil service appointments will date from the day following. " (5) Miss Meyer's records show that her active duty ended on 31 July 1919 and that she was honorably discharged on 5 February 1920.
III. EARLY WORK IN CRYPTOLOGY
The office of the Director of Naval Communications (DNC) hired Agnes Meyer as a stenographer, and in 1920 she was given the title "clerk". However her tenure was brief, as she accepted the invitation of Millionaire George Fabyan to join the Department of Ciphers at his Riverbank Laboratories near Chicago. In a letter of 1 March 1920 to Commander Milo F. Draemel, officer in charge, Navy Code and Signal Section, Colonel Fabyan wrote about Miss Meyer, "We were favorably impressed with the young lady and should the condition arise that it is deemed the part of wisdom to dispense with her services at Washington, I want to say, for your personal information, that you are authorized to send her to Riverbank at my expense and I will give her employment in the Cipher Department, at salary which is equal to that which she is now receiving and, furthermore, should occasion arise that you wanted her returned to the Department, I will then release her for that purpose and, in the meantime, she has been kept in touch with that sort of work and would be available. (6)
IV. CIPHER MACHINES
Early in 1921, the inventor of the first cipher machine to employ the rotor principle, Edward Hugh Hebern, "advertised an 'unbreakable cipher' in a marine magazine, but Miss Agnes Meyer, a cryptanalyst in the Navy's Code and Signal Section, solved the sample message. (7). Whether Miss Meyer had actually returned to Washington or remained at Riverbank at that time is unknown.
Between 1920 and 1922 the sequence of events and activities in Miss Meyer's life were not documented. Evidence does show, however, that she was "attached to the (Yardley's) New York Office for five months in l909." (8) Under the Education" heading on applications for government service submitted after 1920, she did list a course in cryptanalysis at New York Laboratories, a place which became known as the "Black Chamber".
During the mid-1930's, Mrs. Driscoll testified before the Senate Naval Affairs Committee that in 1922 she had helped invent a device called the "Communication Machine" or "Cipher Machine". She worked with Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) William F. Gresham on the development of this device. "Later after GRESHAM's death in August 1935, a claim was made by his widow for recompense. . . . In the course of the hearings on this bill, Mrs. Agnes DRISCOLL, the Navy's principal civilian cryptanalyst for many years, claimed a share in the invention. A clipping from the Manila Daily Bulletin of Tuesday, 8 June 1937, datelined Washington (by airmail), quotes Senator David L. WALSH, chairman of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, that 'The Navy now possesses a device which prevents decoding of its secret radio communication"'... (9) Mrs. Driscoll was awarded $15,000 for her part in inventing the device.
On 15 January 1923, Miss Meyer resigned, and in February 1923 Edward Hebern hired her as Technical Advisor and Liaison with the Navy at The Hebern Electric Code Company which he had incorporated in 1921 with encouragement from the Navy. Although the Navy was very interested in 1923 in purchasing the Hebern cipher machine once it was perfected, the Navy had not provided Hebern with any financial assistance. He was unable to bear the burden of the initial investment (including building a factory, machine dies, molds, patterns, etc.), and "in the spring of 1924, the firm defaulted on the interest on its $100,000 mortgage." (10).
In August 1924, Mrs. Driscoll returned to the Navy Department, having married a Washington lawyer, Michael Bernard Driscoll, in the interim. When or where they met cannot be determined, but they may have known each other for some time since Mr. Driscoll was from Cairo, Illinois.
V. THE RED BOOK
"In the spring of 1920 the secret ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) fund had financed a major undercover operation that involved not just one but a whole series of break-ins at the Japanese Consulate in New York City." (11) The Japanese Fleet code book was photographed page by page and then translated over the course of four years by Dr. Emerson J. Haworth and his wife. This translation was called the "Red Book" because it was bound into two volumes with red bindings.
The Research Desk assumed responsibility for deciphering and analyzing messages sent by Japanese naval radio stations. In 1925, Lieutenant J.G. (LTJG) Joseph J. Rochefort joined the group and also came under the tutelage of Miss Aggie.. After Safford had rotated to sea duty in February, Rochefort took charge of the research desk and "actual cryptanalysts of the 'Red Book' messages was first undertaken. Mrs. Driscoll was responsible for the initial solution and for the solution of most of the new ciphers and 'transposition forms' used with this code." (12) "This was no small achievement because the two-volume Red Book contained some 100,000 code groups, with as many as three groups assigned to each Japanese word or expression." (13) Mrs. Driscoll received a promotion and a raise in 1925.
Miss Aggie's diligence paid off in other ways. According to Safford, information gained from this deciphered code included:
(1) "Form, phraseology, and subject matter of secret Japanese messages.
(2) Various accidents and casualties of Japanese men-of-war.
(3) General knowledge that Japanese naval maneuvers were much more realistic than ours, particularly in night torpedo attacks.
(4) Exact knowledge of Japanese fuel supplies (oil, coal, and gasoline).
(5) Early knowledge of Japanese advances in naval aviation." (14)
VI. GRAND MANEUVERS
In the spring of 1930, the Japanese Imperial Navy conducted exercises known as the Grand Fleet Maneuvers. "The Japanese introduced a new cipher system for these maneuvers plus a daily change of key, but used the good old 'Red Book'. "All hands turned to these messages, Mrs. Driscoll got the first break as usual, and the various daily keys were solved without too much effort. (15) Her work resulted in an intelligence windfall which revealed how the Japanese Fleet would conduct combat operations against the United States. Even more significantly, further analysis of the data indicated that the Japanese had successfully exploited a weakness in U.S. operations. "Their (Japanese) naval intelligence had apparently succeeded in obtaining a very accurate picture of the latest modifications in our war plan Orange." (16) The use of cryptology to discover what the enemy knew about our own forces probably gave senior officials a new appreciation for the importance of cryptology
The Research Desk (OP-20-G) received machines during this time "for relieving the cryptanalytic section of a good deal of their purely mechanical labor. Apparently Mrs. Driscoll, the principal cryptanalyst, was not too enthusiastic about this approached, having for more than 10 years operated with pencil and cross- section paper." (17)
VII. THE BLUE BOOK
In the fall of 1931, Mrs. Driscoll was the first to notice the Japanese had instituted a new code. This new code, known as the "Blue Book", superseded the Red Book. Faced with solving code and cipher simultaneously, the OP-20-G team worked to recover the code by cryptographic analysis and reconstruction. Using an IBM tabulating machine facilitated the task of keeping track of nearly 85,000 code groups and changing cipher keys. No other cryptologists had ever broken a complex code and cipher system without assistance from information obtained by compromise of either the code or system. Devoting all her time to pure cryptanalysis, Mrs. Driscoll was the first to break the code. Thanks to her efforts, in 1936 important information was learned.
The most important and certainly the most dramatic incident connected with the 'Blue Book' was the message reporting (the battleship) NAGATO's post- modernization trials....The NAGATO's new speed was 26+ knots....This created consternation in the higher echelons of the Navy Department because...our new battleships (then only in the blueprint stage) were going to have a speed of only 24 knots. (18)
As a result of this information, our battleships were redesigned to have the edge over their Japanese counterparts with a speed which ultimately was to reach 28 knots. Safford was quoted as saying "that this coup 'paid for our peacetime RI (Radio Intelligence) organization a thou sand times over."' (19) The Blue Book was not superseded by another code until 1938.
VIII. TO CATCH A SPY
In 1936, while working on intercepted Japanese foreign office traffic, Mrs. Driscoll consulted the Japanese linguist, Lieutenant (LT) Layton, and identified a word "T-O-M-I-M-U-R-A", which Layton said could be rendered as Tomison or Thompson. Mrs. Driscoll responded, "LT Layton, I want to thank you. You helped me to solve part of a cipher that has been bothering me for some time. The name is Thompson."' (20) After investigation, Thompson was revealed to be a Pacific Fleet radioman.
The American who was his accomplice and referred to as Agent K in the same message turned out to be John S. Farnsworth, a cashiered navy officer. It was he who masterminded an espionage ring that turned over engineering, and gunnery secrets...Farnsworth and Thomspon were arrested in 1936 Although the evidence that unmasked Harry H. Thompson and led to the pair's apprehension could never be presented in court, they were convicted the following year of conspiring to violate federal espionage laws and sentenced to four to twelve years in prison. (21)
IX. AGGIE WE HARDLY KNEW YE
The brief character sketch of Agnes May (Meyer) Driscoll which follows is an excerpt from the late Rear Admiral (RADM) Edwin T. Layton's book, "And I Was There":
I had been warned not to patronize Madam 'X', as her colleagues sometimes referred to her, because she was sensitive to her role as a woman in a man's world. Because of this she kept to herself as much as possible and none of us was invited to socialize with her and her lawyer husband. While she could be warm and friendly, she usually affected an air of intense detachment, which was heightened by her tailored clothes and shunning of makeup. It was surprising to hear Miss Aggie curse, which she frequently did -as fluently as any sailor whom I have ever heard.
In the navy she was without peer as a cryptanalyst. Some of her pupils .. . . were more able mathematicians but she had taught cryptanalysts to all of them, and none ever questioned her superb talent and determination in breaking codes and ciphers. She understood machines and how to apply them. . . . But her principal talent was her ability to get to the root of a problem, sort out its essential components, and find a way to solve it. Among her uniformed colleagues, she was held in the highest esteem throughout her long career. . . . (22)
In October 1937, Mrs. Driscoll was in an automobile accident in which two of the other passengers were killed. "She suffered two broken jaws and a broken leg.... not returning fully to duty until September 1938." [sic] (23) She returned to duty with the use of a cane. In addition to the physical injury she sustained, Mrs. Driscoll also apparently suffered a marked personality change, according to reminiscences of contemporaries given in oral history form.
X. DESIGNING THE PERFECT MOUSETRAP
By 1 June 1939 Japan was using an operations code cipher (JN-25) which was radically different from any other Japanese navy cipher.
It was a five-numeral, two-part code, consisting of 33,333 groups tin the 'dictionary book', to each of which were added by false arithmetic (no borrowing or carrying) a five-digit number selected in sequence according to the start key form a second book of random additives. The resulting encipherment consisted of a series of five-digit numbers divisible by three to° provide a convenient check against garbles. (24)
Mrs. Driscoll recognized the traffic as machine generated, and she developed a manual decryption for this Japanese machine ("M1"). Working from known characteristics of the cipher, LT Jack S. Holtwick built an electric coding machine which decrypted the Japanese Navy's machine cipher. "This analog worked well enough . . . until it (the cipher) was abandoned in 1938. But the real value of the 'M1' machine was that it gave Friedman's team a headstart in constructing the device that would imitate the '"M3"" machine which was then being used by the Japanese foreign ministry in 1935 to encode its most confidential communications." (25)
From this point until her retirement at age 70 in 1959, there is no documentation of Agnes Driscoll's specific achievements. What we do know of her as a cryptologist is that her most significant contributions were to the development of Naval cryptology and to the Navy's victory in World War II. She modestly described her job as in cryptology as "scientific duties"; she probably approached her job with quiet loyalty and dedication (forty years of government service) grounded in a solid understanding of the importance of cryptology. In addition to this unpretentious dignity, Mrs. Driscoll had a certain drive to accomplish wholeheartedly any task at hand, as evidenced by her proficiency and some devoted achievements in her life. Her unique character and the important role she played as a pioneer in the burgeoning field of cryptology in the early part of this century immediately appealed to me as a topic for the Rear Admiral McDowell Essay.
(1) Tobias, Sheila. Overcoming Math Anxiety (1978), p. 80.
(2) Hancock, Joy (Captain, U.S. Navy, Retired). Lady in the Navy. A Personal Reminiscence (1972),
(3) Daniels, Josephus. Our Navy At War (1922), pgs. 328-329.
(4) Dessey, Eunice C. The First Enlisted Women 1917-1918 (1955), p30.
(5) Ibid., p. 66.
(6) Colonel George Fabyan's letter of 1 March 1920 to Commander Milo F. Draemel.
(7) Kahn, David. The Codebreakers. The Story of Secret Writing (1967). p. 415.
(8) Holtwick, J.S. (U.S. Navy Retired) Naval Security Group History of World War II. Part I, p. 35.
(9) Ibid., p. 18.
(10) Kahn, Codebreakers, p. 418
(11) Layton, Edwin T. (Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy, Retired), and Pineau, Roger (Captain, U.S. Naval Reserve, Retired). "And I Was There" (1985). p. 31.
(12) Safford, L. F. (Captain, U.S. Navy). The Undeclared War ("History of R.I.") (15 November 1943),
(13) Layton, "And I Was There", p. 34.
(14) Safford, The Undeclared War, p. 05. (15) Ibid., p. 08.
(16) Layton, "And I Was There", p. 35. (17) Holtwick, Naval Security Group History of World War II,
Part I, p.79
(18) Ibid, p. 90.
(19) Layton, "And I Was There", p. 58.
(20) Ibid, p. 59.
(21) Ibid, p. 59.
(22) Ibid, p. 58
(23) Holtwick, Naval Security Group History To World War II. Part I, p. 160.
(24) Layton, "And I Was There", p. 77
(25) Ibid, p. 79.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Joe Rochefort: The Making of a Crypie
from Midway Roundtable, Robert Lee
The Making of a Crypie
By Pete Azzole. © 1995 CRYPTOLOG.
(Reproduced with permission of Author and Cryptolog)
If you desire to be a really great cryptanalyst, being a little bit nuts helps. A cryptanalyst, from those that I have observed,
is usually an odd character. ---Captain Joseph J. Rochefort, USN
My articles based on Captain Rochefort's oral history interview in 1969 by Commander Etta-Belle Kitchen has been relatively serious. Many of Rochefort's tales put a smile on my face, however. I marked several such areas which I thought the readers of CRYPTOLOG would enjoy. This article is about one of those areas in the interview manuscript.
Do you remember how you came to be a "cryppy?" I'll bet there's not a one of us who doesn't. There was an instant in time when we passed through the twilight zone and our lives were changed forever. The remarkable thing is that, for most of us, this great instant in time was banal, yet unforgettable. My passage was routine and nondramatic, but I can remember it as though it was yesterday. I touched upon it in the AFTERTHOUGHTS column titled "Welcome Aboard." Rochefort's experience was no more or less routine and nondramatic. I noted, grinning widely, that Kitchen was struck by this phenomenon. She just couldn't believe how unlikely the circumstances were that brought him into the field of cryptology. Let's pick up the dialogue shortly into the very first interview. Kitchen (K) is asking Rochefort (R) about his entry into the Navy and his earliest assignments. He indicated earlier that he wanted to be a Naval Aviator, but he didn't pursue it and became a "ship-driving" Line Officer by default. [Assume quotes throughout]
[R] . . . While serving on the [USS] CUYAMA, [oil tanker; in 1919] one of my executive officers was named Commander Jersey, and he and I had several things in common. One was bridge, the other being that I liked to work crossword puzzles, which were just coming into style. He remembered this, and when he was ordered to the Navy Department, he asked me if I would care to come to the Navy Department on temporary duty in connection with preparing codes and ciphers. It was then that I was introduced to cryptanalysis.
[K] I wanted to get to that, because to me that's where your career is so exciting, but I was wondering what happened to your aviation duty?
[R] As I grew up, I forgot that. I gave that up.
[K] You never tried for it after you. . .
[R] No, I never tried for it then. Then on my first temporary duty in Washington I was a student at a class in cryptanalysis and when the officer in charge, who by the way was Lieutenant Commander Safford, was due for sea duty, I was ordered to relieve [him as] the officer in charge.
[K] That was what I was so interested in because when you read [your] biography it just says [you] went from sea duty after all these various ships and became officer in charge of the Cryptographic Section in the Office of Naval Communications, Navy Department, Washington, D.C., and my questions were loaded with what had you been doing in the background to make this assignment possible?
[R] Well, as I said, I was probably ordered to the Navy Department for temporary duty because of Commander Jersey's recommendation.
[K] Was that because you were good at crossword puzzles?
[R] Probably, and he liked my way of playing bridge with him. Auction bridge was just disappearing then into contract bridge. Contract bridge came to the fore. It was probably because of that. Then when I completed the six months or so course with Commander Safford in charge of the section, Commander Safford became due for sea duty, and they ordered me as his relief as the officer in charge.
[K] What did they teach you in the course? He was the teacher?
[R] Yes, he was the actual teacher, but there were no formal education processes at all. They would just turn over maybe several messages and see which one of us could solve them quickest.
[K] How did you know how to do that?
[R] There was a book as I recall -- at about this time Bill Friedman, who was in charge of the Army part of this same organization, had written a book called "The Elements of Cryptanalysis" and this was really our bible; this was our reference book. We would study that and then attempt to solve these little cryptograms or ciphers that Commander Safford would prepare for us. . .
[K] . . . What was Safford's background that he became assigned? Was he the first man, would you say, in the Navy?
[R] Yes, Safford really started this whole organization say roughly from '23 to '25 and then I followed him from '25 to '27.
[K] I wonder, do you know what made him start it? What caused him to be interested in it?
[R] Strangely enough, maybe the best answer here would be if you ask a mountain climber why does he climb a certain mountain, he'll tell you because it's there. Well, why does a cryptanalyst attempt to solve some code or cipher systems?
[K] I mean, I wonder how he happened to get into or be interested in cryptanalysis at all.
[R] Because here was a message or a series of messages which didn't make sense to anybody, and this was a challenge.
[K] Was he then in communications?
[R] Yes, this was what he knew. These things just present a challenge, and a true cryptanalyst will never give up until he has solved this particular system. A true cryptanalyst, incidentally, generally is not involved in subsequent use of this at all. He's what you would call a technician who will solve a system just for the sake of solving the system. But he doesn't usually apply the results to any operation or need or purpose or anything else. This would be a true cryptanalyst. This would be Safford.
[K] So he really did it just for the love of doing it.
[R] Yes, it, as I said, it presents a challenge to anybody. Actually, nearly all cryptanalysts are somewhat the same. Well, let me put it this way. If you desire to be a really great cryptanalyst, being a little bit nuts helps. A cryptanalyst from those that I have observed is usually an odd character. [Are you smiling?]
[K] Isn't that true of most any genius?
[R] Yes, it is. Actually people like Safford, maybe Dyer, are people who will not generally conform to the accepted ideas. These are regarding clothes or actions or anything of that nature, and this always helps. But, by the same token, these people who have this ability require generally somebody over them to keep them on the right track.
[K] Yes, I suppose that's true.
[R] I've often said it is not necessary to be crazy to be a cryptanalyst, but it always helps. . .
Well, dear readers, with those words of Rochefort, I close. Keep smiling.
© Copyright 1995 CRYPTOLOG, All Rights Reserved.
This article has been provided with the permission of
the journal of
The US Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association,
1010 SW Eleventh Street,
Corvallis, OR 97333-4240.