Enigma Communications’ managing editor Phil Shanahan gave a sell-out talk about three unsung war heroes at a prestigious London hotel.
Phil recounted the remarkable story of how Lieutenant Tony Fasson and Able Seaman Colin Grazier boarded a sinking German U-boat to capture vital material which helped hasten the end of WWII.
The packed audience at the Grim’s Dyke Hotel heard how the codebooks Fasson and Grazier seized enabled Bletchley Park’s codebreakers to crack the Nazi naval Enigma communications network.
Tragically, Fasson and Grazier went down with the submarine. But their sacrifice was not in vain. A teenage canteen assistant, who had boarded the stricken vessel with the men, survived to pass on the documents to fellow crew members of HMS Petard.
The Petard Pinch enabled the Allies to identify the positions of the U-boat wolf packs which had been destroying ships bringing essential supplies to Britain from the USA.
The Admiralty was able to re-route the convoys and turn its guns on the enemy, saving thousands of tonnes of shipping and countless lives. The Germans lost the Battle of the Atlantic as a result, a defeat that ultimately led to Allied victory.
The pinch was kept secret for decades on national security grounds, but after the details were released Phil led a newspaper campaign to honour the three heroes. He wrote a book about the campaign, The Real Enigma Heroes, and has given many talks on the subject up and down the country.
Phil said: “It was really heartening to see the room packed with people who wanted to know more about this story. These men did so much for their country and it’s good to see that their role in helping achieve world peace is finally being recognised.”
Since the launch of the campaign in 1998, a magnificent sculpture has been unveiled in the centre of Tamworth, Staffordshire in tribute to the Enigma heroes. Roads have also been named after them and an exhibition at Bletchley Park firmly establishes their place in history. Other numerous accolades to the men’s courage and sacrifice included a spectacular re-enactment of the daring incident at the British Military Tournament, held at Earls Court in London in 2013.