Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Freefall: Chapter 34

Miriam Zakon

Once in Bletchley Park, Colonel Cohn explains to Moe that the codebreaking work being done here is helping to win the war

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I f Colonel Cohn expected wild enthusiasm and breathless interest as he introduced the work of Station X to Moe, he was to be disappointed.

“Breaking codes will win the war? I don’t understand, sir.” Moe’s tone, though respectful, held a carefully controlled but unmistakably dismissive note.

The colonel looked at his new aide with a mixture of impatience and understanding. “Moe, eight months ago, when I was posted to England, my wife insisted on coming with me. Do you know why?” Moe had to grin. “Harry said she was going to keep you safe from the Blitz.”

Colonel Cohn returned the smile. “That’s partially true. But the real danger that my wife, bless her, insisted on sharing with me was not in London — though that was bad enough — it was in the sea. Traveling the North Atlantic was a tremendously dangerous undertaking, with Nazi U-boats sinking literally hundreds of thousands of tons of shipping every month.

“We traveled in convoys for protection, and the enemy followed in wolf packs that would surround the ships and torpedo them. Food for the British population, military equipment, arms — everything England needed to win the war — was winding up on the ocean floor. We were losing the battle of the North Atlantic, Moe, and if we lost that battle, England would lose the war.”

Now it was the colonel’s turn to look out the window, his eyes, it seemed to Moe, seeing not a glowing emerald lawn but the somber, gray waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

“Do you know why I felt safe sending my wife and those two orphans back to New York, Moe? Because since the geniuses here broke the supposedly unbreakable Enigma code of the German Navy, the Allied forces know where the wolf packs are lurking — and the convoys can avoid them. Allied losses have gone down by over 50 percent in the past months, and they’ve been decreasing even more with every passing day. And that’s why I can send my wife into the Atlantic with a calm heart.”

The colonel looked squarely at Moe. “The RAF flyers, the sailors facing torpedoes, even the paratroopers you were so anxious to join — they’re brave men, heroes. But Moe, if we want to stop this endless butchery, the ones who are going to do it are the eccentric, sometimes even mad, geniuses here in this mansion.”

Moe looked around at the small room. There were two wooden desks, one almost obscured by papers, the other — he presumed it would belong to him — standing pristine, empty, expectant. Outside, all was peaceful, lovely. From the hallways came the sound of murmuring, well-bred English voices. So this was his war?

No espionage. No secret papers to be smuggled to waiting partisans. No guns or grenades or leading his squad courageously through enemy artillery.

You signed the papers. You agreed to the posting. Time to be a good soldier, First Lieutenant Freed. Moe forced a smile. “Okay, sir, so tell me — how can I help win the war?”

Related Stories

Coloring Out of the Lines

Esther Kurtz

At least Debby is entertaining when she harasses me. But Paint Nite? Seriously? I’d send a donation,...

Unwrapped

Bracha Stein

Involuntarily, Chava smoothed her sheitel, but her brown bob couldn’t hold a candle to Miri’s locks....

Tichel Tales: Chapter 1

Gabriella Roth

She went for the jugular. “So Gabby, I noticed that you’ve been wearing tichels lately. Have you dec...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"