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Breaking Japanese Diplomatic Codes David Sissons and D Special Section during the Second World War

Breaking Japanese Diplomatic Codes David Sissons and D Special Section during the Second World War OPEN ACCESS

Desmond Ball
Keiko Tamura
Volume: Asian Studies Series Monograph 4
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt4cg5qn
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  • Book Info
    Breaking Japanese Diplomatic Codes David Sissons and D Special Section during the Second World War
    Book Description:

    During the Second World War, Australia maintained a super-secret organisation, the Diplomatic (or `D’) Special Section, dedicated to breaking Japanese diplomatic codes. The Section has remained officially secret as successive Australian Governments have consistently refused to admit that Australia ever intercepted diplomatic communications, even in war-time. This book recounts the history of the Special Section and describes its code-breaking activities. It was a small but very select organisation, whose `technical’ members came from the worlds of Classics and Mathematics. It concentrated on lower-grade Japanese diplomatic codes and cyphers, such as J-19 (FUJI), LA and GEAM. However, towards the end of the war it also worked on some Soviet messages, evidently contributing to the effort to track down intelligence leakages from Australia to the Soviet Union. This volume has been produced primarily as a result of painstaking efforts by David Sissons, who served in the Section for a brief period in 1945. From the 1980s through to his death in 2006, Sissons devoted much of his time as an academic in the Department of International Relations at ANU to compiling as much information as possible about the history and activities of the Section through correspondence with his former colleagues and through locating a report on Japanese diplomatic codes and cyphers which had been written by members of the Section in 1946. Selections of this correspondence, along with the 1946 report, are reproduced in this volume. They comprise a unique historical record, immensely useful to scholars and practitioners concerned with the science of cryptography as well as historians of the cryptological aspects of the war in the Pacific. “This publication fills an important gap in the present available knowledge concerning code-breaking in Australia during World War II. It also gives overdue recognition to the important contribution made by David Sissons to this subject”. Professor John Mack, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sydney.

    eISBN: 978-1-925021-08-0
    Subjects: History
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  1. Desmond Ball

    During the Second World War, Australia hosted three organisations concerned with the cryptanalysis of intercepted Japanese radio communications. The activities of two of these, respectively concerned with Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) signals and Japanese army and air force signals, have been widely described and discussed by historians and veterans since the 1970s.¹

    This volume, which has been produced primarily as a result of painstaking efforts by David Sissons, provides a comprehensive and authoritative account of the third, Diplomatic Special Section (D Special Section) of the Australian Military Forces HQ in Melbourne, which was responsible for cryptographic activities concerning Japanese diplomatic...

  2. D.C.S. Sissons

    Three months after the outbreak of war, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) on 12 December 1939 wrote to his colleagues, the Chief of the General Staff (CGS) and Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) that it had ‘been suggested’ that it might be desirable to set up in Australia ‘a cryptographic organisation on the lines of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS;) in London, with a view to breaking down enemy codes and cyphers’. He sought their views. The source of the ‘suggestion’ he did not state. Presumably it had come as an informal feeler from the...

  3. Work on Japanese diplomatic cyphers was first begun by the Section in December 1941 under the auspices of the Navy. During 1942, the staff consisted of only three cryptographers, but after the Section was taken over by the Army in November of that year, the technical staff was increased to deal with new cyphers. Professor A. D. Trendall of the University of Sydney was in charge of cryptography, assisted by Lieutenant R. S. Bond and Lieutenant E. S. Barnes. Mr. C. H. Archer of the British Consular Service supervised the language and translation section, and on his return to England...