New Photos Surface of a British Raid on a German U-Boat – They Captured the Enigma Machine

German WWI U-boat UB 14 on the surface of the Black Sea. The submarine's crew is gathered around the tower.
German WWI U-boat UB 14 on the surface of the Black Sea. The submarine's crew is gathered around the tower.

New photos have surfaced from a British raid on a sinking U-boat. In the pictures, the HMS Bulldog is seen capturing German U-boat 110 and two other vessels.

When the British boarded the U-boat, they found an intact Enigma machine along with the code books.

Sub-Lieutenant David Balme was frightened, but he climbed to the top of the conning tower where he found the machine.

Historian Peter Hore, features the photos in his new book about the machine’s capture.

According to Hore, the Germans were winning the Battle of the Atlantic until Balme’s brave act captured the machine.

With the machine and the codes, the British were able to start sending convoys by different routes to avoid the wolfpacks of U-boats out hunting them.

Anti-submarine patrol
Anti-submarine patrol

By 1943, the Battle of the Atlantic was nearly won, and the fresh troops from Canada and the United States were able to cross over the ocean without suffering heavy losses.

Balme, who died last year at the age of 95, was given credit for shortening the war by up to two years.

His actions were not recognized by the authorities until the 1970s. That’s when a lot of the secrecy around Bletchley Park began to recede.

Balme received a Bletchley badge and a certificate that was signed by the prime minister at the time, David Cameron, and a local MP, Julian Lewis.

Balme resided in Lymington, Hampshire until he retired to a nursing home in Milford on the Sea where he stayed until he died.

He condemned Hollywood for playing loose with the facts in the movie U571, where the Americans are shown capturing the machine. The movie makes it seem that the Americans retrieved the machine in the Mediterranean.

Balme said, “Rome and Malta make for better scenery than Greenland and Scapa Flow, but Enigma was among the greatest British triumphs of the war,” Mail Online reported.

“It’s wrong to pretend the Americans were responsible. People don’t like that sort of thing.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE