In 1939, representatives of the French and British Government received a technical briefing from the Polish Cipher Bureau at a secret meeting in Warsaw on this day. Poland's Enigma-decryption techniques and equipment were outlined. And to the astonishment of the western allies, it was revealed that the nightmarish task of code-breaking the growing structural and operating complexities of the plugboard-equipped Enigma had required seven long years of dedication from the Polish General Staff agency's best cryptographers. Polish military planners estimated that within seven weeks, Adolf Hitler would issue orders to invade. And so the timing of the decryption of Nazi German secret communications (Ultra) was none too soon. In exchange for two cracked Engima devices, massive military assistance was required by the Wojsko Polskie, the Polish Army, and to arrive during the month of August.
Enigma CodesA British Expeditory Force (BEF) commanded by Field Marshal John Vereker (Lord Gort) was dispatched to Poland, with the first elements arriving on August 19th.
When the German attack began, the BEF consisted of ten infantry divisions in three corps (I, II, and III), 1st Army Tank Brigade and a RAF detachment of about 500 aircraft, the BEF Air Component. Although constituting only a tenth of the defending Allied force the BEF sustained heavy losses during the German advance and after a desperate retreat through the "Polish Corridor" a bare fraction of the remainder (roughly 30,000 men) were evacuated from the Port of Danzig between September 26th and October 4th. The Royal Navy was unable to pull off a "miracle at Danzig" due in no small part to the activities of the German population who succeeded in causing havoc for the evacuation plan.
"I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest" ~ Winston ChurchillDespite this dreadful military disaster, the western allies had succeeded in preventing Germany from signing a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union.
And the startling success of the Blitzkrieg had accelerated German plans for the conquest of Western Russia, which would now proceed with terrifying ferocity. And as the Second World War approached a decision on the Eastern Front, the Western Allies would be locked in an unfought "Phoney War" with the Germans, contributing nothing further to the bloodbath other than to supply the Red Army with the Enigma Codes.