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Code Breakers : Inside the shadow world of signals intelligence in Australia's two Bletchley Parks - Craig Collie

Code Breakers

Inside the shadow world of signals intelligence in Australia's two Bletchley Parks

Paperback Published: 29th March 2017
ISBN: 9781743312100
Number Of Pages: 400

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At the height of World War II in the Pacific, two secret organisations existed in Australia to break Japan's military codes. They were peopled by brilliant and idiosyncratic cryptographers, including some with achievements in mathematics and the Classics and others who had lived or grown up in Japan. These men patiently and carefully unravelled the codes in Japanese signals, ultimately playing a crucial role in the battles of Midway and the Coral Sea, as well as Macarthur's push into the Philippines. An intercept station in the Queensland bush brought about the end of Admiral Yamamoto.

But this is more than a story of codes. It is an extraordinary exploration of a unique group of men and their intense personal rivalries and loathing, of white-anting and taking credit for others' achievements. It is also the story of a fierce inter-national and inter-service political battle for control of war-changing intelligence between a group of cryptographers based at the Monterey apartment block in Melbourne's Albert Park and General MacArthur's counter group that eventually established its headquarters in suburban Brisbane. What happened between these two groups would have consequences for intelligence services in the years to follow.

Code Breakers brings this surprising and very secret world and the men who operated in it to rich life for the first time.

About the Author

Craig Collie is the author of the highly acclaimed The Path of Infinite Sorrow: The Japanese on the Kokoda Track and Nagasaki: The massacre of the innocent and unknowing, as well as The Reporter and the Warlords: An Australian at large in China's republican revolution. He is a TV producer-director by background and was series producer of A Big Country and Quantum. He has been Production Executive at the Australian Film TV & Radio School and head of TV Production at SBS.




Code Breakers is an easy to read account of the the wartime cryptanalytical and sigint effort in Australia aimed at the general reader. The book provides a good overview of the subject and the activities of the two centres for cryptanalysis that were formed in Australia between 1941 and 1942. As an introduction to the subject, Code Breakers is worth buying although it does fall into the usual Australian trap of attributing too much significance to too little substance.

Sydney, Australia


Aussie secrets behind MacArthur's WWII success told at last


Secret WWII history revealed. The huge impact that code breaking had on the course of the Pacific war has been a secret for far too long. Firstly as a result of the official secrets act. Then because the world moved on. The main players, unheralded code breaking heroes faded from the scene, and the people most affected – those fighting the war, like my father – died without knowing the truth. And the truth is fascinating. Great advances in the secret war, from small beginnings: a talented young Australian learning Japanese in the 1920s (when Japan was a First World War ally), the need to read Japanese (Kana) Morse Code and eventually to decode encrypted Kana. Then more cryptographers, joined by mathematicians and linguists, and a secret code breaking unit is born. Much of the early action takes place at Albert Park in Melbourne, fed by listening stations at Moorabbin and Park Orchards. Then major early wins (like the Battle of the Coral Sea) reinforce the value of Australia's new secret intelligence weapon to the top brass pushing the Japanese out of the region. More codebreakers join the unit, which as military and naval successes drive the enemy north, morphs into two units, one in Melbourne, then in Brisbane, then moving further North with MacArthur. A ripping yarn. I wish my father, who read everything written about the war that so consumed his youth, had had the chance to read this book. It takes nothing from the bravery and courage of the soldiers and sailors that fought and won. What is does do is provide a new, intriguing picture of the secrets behind MacArthur's brilliantly successful strategies that eventually won the war. Craig Collie has done us and our forebears a huge favour. Time to read some of his other works.





Excellent real life novel



Great read on Australia's codebreaking efforts during WW2


As a former officer in the Royal Australian Signals Corps, the tpoic of this book has some interest to me. I am familiar with the history of codebreaking in the UK (Bletchley Park et al) and this book provides an excellent insight into our own efforts in this area of military intelligence. Congratulations to the author on the massive research efforts behind this book. Excellent documentary.

Melbourne, Australia


Code Breakers

4.5 4


List of maps


Diagram of Allied code-breaking units

1. Burn the codes and ciphers

2. Pioneer of the code breaker's craft

3. Special Intelligence Bureau

4. The road to Corregidor

5. Scramble to safety

6. The turning of the tide

7. Midway

8. Central Bureau

9. The Water Transport Code broken

10. The admiral's itinerary

11. Buried treasure

12. The front line and the back room

13. A new world, a new enemy Coding and decoding Japan's military messages

Glossary of technical terms

Cast of characters





ISBN: 9781743312100
ISBN-10: 1743312105
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 400
Published: 29th March 2017
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3  x 3.18
Weight (kg): 0.5