The last of the codebreakers:
Jerry Roberts, the last surviving member of the British code-breaking team that cracked strategic ciphers between Hitler and his top generals, helping to hasten the end of World War II, died on March 25 in Hampshire, England. He was 93.
His death was confirmed by the Bletchley Park Trust, a nonprofit group that administers the Victorian estate north of London where the British government lodged Mr. Roberts and hundreds of other code breakers during the war, among them linguists, mathematicians and puzzle masters of various backgrounds.
Mr. Roberts, a German linguist, was part of a small top-secret group assembled in 1941 to help decrypt messages picked up in radio signals between Hitler and his field marshals on the front. The team’s very existence remained a secret until 2006, when the British government declassified wartime intelligence files.
"Enigma" was the easy part, apparently:
By 1941, Bletchley Park cryptographers had already deciphered thousands of messages transmitted by lower-level German commanders in the field, thanks to the work of the mathematician Alan Turing, who in 1940 cracked the daunting German secret code that the British called Enigma. But they were stumped by the even more complex ciphered messages being transmitted among Hitler and the generals Erwin Rommel, Wilhelm Keitel, Gerd von Rundstedt and Alfred Jodl.
Code breakers initially called the system Fish, taking the name from a German code operator who, in an unguarded moment, had referred to the code as “sägefisch” (sawfish). Mr. Roberts and his group nicknamed it Tunny — as in tuna fish — and they were able to crack it.
Mr. Roberts eventually served as the head cryptologist for the team, which grew to more than 100.
Today Mr. Roberts would be working for the NSA decrypting encoded private tweets from Paris Hilton. Among other things.