The Magdeburg Sting 1936
Poste de Commandement Bruno
PC Bruno was a Polish-French intelligence station that operated outside Paris during World War II. German ciphers were decrypted there, most notably messages enciphered on the Enigma machine. ("PC" is an abbreviation for the French term Poste de Commandement - "Command Post")
PC Bruno operated at the Chateau de Vignolles in Gretz-Armainvillers, some 40 kilometers northeast of Paris, from October 1939 until June 9, 1940, well into the German invasion of France (May-June 1940). It was headed by French Army radio-intelligence officer, Gustave Bertrand, and its personnel included 15 Polishmen and 50 Frenchmen.
In July 1939, the Polish General Staff's Cipher Bureau had turned over to French and British intelligence representatives information about the Polish achievements in breaking German military Enigma traffic. The British, working at Bletchley Park outside London, put considerable effort into mastering the reading of German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe Enigma as World War II began in Poland, and during the "Phony War" before the Germans invaded France.
Most of the Polish Cipher Bureau's key personnel had managed to reach France and been assigned to PC Bruno. As late as December 1939, when Lt. Col. Gwido Langer and French Air Force Capt. Henri Braquenié were (December 3-7) visiting London and Bletchley Park, the British asked that the Polish cryptologists be turned over to them; Langer took the position that they must remain where the Polish armed forces were being formed - on French soil.
Bletchley Park and PC Bruno worked together against the German message traffic with considerable success - in the interest of security, themselves corresponding in the "unbreakable" Enigma cipher. Messages decrypted at Bruno included some that gave advance notice of planned German invasions of Denmark, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands.
After Bruno was evacuated (just after midnight, June 10, 1940), on June 24 Bruno's 15 Polishmen and 7 Spaniards were flown in three planes to Algeria. A couple of months later, in September 1940, they were secretly returned to southern (Vichy) France (France's unoccupied "Free Zone").
There, at Uzès on the Mediterranean coast, Bertrand established a new intelligence station, codenamed "Cadix." Its personnel comprised the 15 Polishmen as well as 9 Frenchmen and 7 Spaniards (the latter worked on Italian and Fascist Spanish ciphers).
In July 1941, Polish cryptologists Marian Rejewski and Henryk Żygalski demonstrated the imperfect security of the Polish Lacida (or LCD) rotor cipher machine.
Cadix had a branch office in Algeria, directed by Maksymilian Ciężki, which periodically exchanged staff with Uzès. In one of these exchanges, Jerzy Różycki died January 9, 1942, when the passenger ship "Lamoricière" that he was traveling on to France mysteriously sank. Also lost in the disaster were Piotr Smolenski and Jan Gralinski, of the prewar Cipher Bureau's Russian section, and a French officer accompanying the three Poles, Captain François Lane.
Cadix was evacuated November 9, 1942, a day after the Allied Operation Torch landings in North Africa - and two days before southern France was occupied by the Germans on November 11.
Rejewski and Żygalski eventually made it to Britain, where they continued to contribute to the effort against German (SS "hand") ciphers, in London. Rejewski and Żygalski had fared better than some of their colleagues. Cadix's Polish military chiefs, Langer and Ciężki, had also been captured - by the Germans, as they tried to cross from France into Spain, the night of March 10-11, 1943 - along with three of the other Poles, Antoni Palluth, Edward Fokczyński and Kazimierz Gaca. The first two became prisoners of war, and the other three were sent as slave labor to Germany, where Palluth and Fokczyński died. All five men protected the secret of Enigma decryption.
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