Bletchley Park launches U-boat 110 exhibition

The capture of the Enigma codebooks from a German U-boat was one of the breakthrough moments in World War 2 - and it happened 70 years ago today. In remembrance, Bletchley Park is opening a new exhibition commemorating the event.

Bletchley Park was once home to the codebreakers, a team of scientists and engineers who worked hard to unlock ciphers used in German military communications - but the naval Enigma code was a tough cookie to crack. A team, including mathematician and computing pioneer Alan Turing, worked flat-out trying to decrypt the signals - but to no avail.

The team was to get a helping hand, however: on the 9th of May 1941, the German U-boat 110 was captured by allied forces, with a set of Enigma codebooks on board - crucially containing the missing material from books captured from a weather boat on the 7th, without which the codebreakers would have likely been unable to break the Enigma cipher.

The exhibition, organised by the Bletchley Park Trust on the grounds where the code-breaking work took place, includes a complete set of photographs detailing the capture of the vessel - the first time the photographs have been shown as a complete set - along with the first-hand account of the man who secured the Enigma codebooks, who is still alive today.

At the time, King George VI famously claimed that the capture of U-boat 110 was the most important event in the war at sea - and while historians might disagree, there's no denying it was a turning point in the war.

The exhibition coincides with a special 70th anniversary release of historian Hugh Sebag-Montefiore's book detailing the events surrounding the capture of the codebooks, with the first copies available for visitors to the exhibition.

The exhibition is open from today for all visitors to Bletchley Park.