Battle of Cape Matapan

In late March 1941, as British ships of the Mediterranean Fleet covered troop movements to Greece, Mavis Batey, a cryptanalyst at Bletchley Park, made a breakthrough, reading the Italian naval Enigma for the first time. The first message, the cryptic “Today’s the day minus three,” was followed three days later by a second message reporting the sailing of an Italian battle fleet comprising one battleship, six heavy and two light cruisers, plus destroyers to attack the merchant convoys supplying British forces. As always with Enigma, the intelligence breakthrough was concealed from the Italians by ensuring there was a plausible reason for the Allies to have detected and intercepted their fleet. In this case, it was a carefully directed reconnaissance plane.

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