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TOPIC: playfair intelligence cipher

playfair intelligence cipher 3 months 2 weeks ago #60162

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Thanks, IL. That's more knowledge than I possessed!

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playfair intelligence cipher 3 months 2 weeks ago #60163

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There is a good description and example of the code here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Playfair_cipher

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playfair intelligence cipher 3 months 2 weeks ago #60164

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An explanation from the NZMR site: www.nzmr.org/signals.htm

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playfair intelligence cipher 2 months 2 days ago #60793

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Sending two images of the coded messages. Regards Graham
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playfair intelligence cipher 2 months 1 day ago #60795

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Graham
Thanks for posting those two pics. Both are interesting examples of a mixture of plain text and code. In the first, locations referred to are coded (and also most likely, so is the identity of friendly units and those of the enemy) - while a date, a direction, a distance and are in clear; along with other wording. Perhaps it was easier to telegraph the message in that manner. Previously, I would have assumed that the whole of such a message would be coded. Clearly, not so.
The dissemination of the contents of that message is obviously intended to be transmitted to a number of locations. All apart from Bloemfontein appear to be in Cape Colony. As is the originator in Carnarvon. That and the date of 4th January might give us a clue - the message may relate to the invasion of Cape Colony in in December 1900 and moves to counter it. Another interesting aspect of the in-clear section of the message is the comment of the dissatisfaction of the treatment of the natives by the boers in the area or areas discussed.
I will have a look at the second coded message tomorrow. However, I think the first message is more interesting.
Thanks again for positing those pics. I have never seen anything like them before.
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playfair intelligence cipher 2 months 3 hours ago #60807

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Graham
I had the time to have a look at the second of the cipher messages in your #60793 post. Unfortunately, I could not make much of the sender - or his location. The message was intended for the Commandant at Jagesfontein Railway Station and it predated the other message by a couple of months. Apart from the enciphered units/locations/etc. , the body of the message is readable. The locations of Jagersfontein and Edenburg (the latter in the body of the message) are in the OFS and the date of 7 Dec. in my opinion tends to tie this message to the pursuit of De Wet in the OFS towards the end of 1900. Should you wish to read about that campaign and the invasion of Cape Colony, you might avail yourself of Vol.5 of The Times History (available to read in the "Books" section of this site).
If I might make a couple more comments; the "OHMS" above the sender's initials on both messages indicate they are official and the priority the telegraphist should give them. And the characters immediately after the date on the topmost line in both messages probably are an indication of which key to use at the other end.
To conclude - pity the poor telegraphist faced with having to first figure out what was to be sent and then having to encipher it! No wonder things got mixed up on occasion.
I would be very happy to hear other opinions on either/both of the messages you posted.
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IL.
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