John Cairncross - the man who made Soviet victory at Kursk Possible

Discussion in 'Top Secret' started by Jedburgh22, Jan 25, 2015.

  1. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    I have been reading My Five Cambridge Friends by Yuri Modin and he reveals how Cairncross passed the full Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe orders of battle including unit positions to the Soviets. These had been obtained from Ultra Decrypts - British policy was to give some but not all information to the Russians. The Russians were able to carry out preemptive strikes on Luftwaffe forward airfields as well as switching their own unit positions. perhaps just as telling was that details of the Tiger and Elephant were also passed enabling the Russians to modify their A/T rounds to deal with the thicker armour.
  2. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    The topic of the Kursk tank battle and the passing of intelligence,both officially and unofficially has been discussed here with the important part that John Cairncross played.

    Pleased to hear of a publication now available so that the event can be seen in a dedicated subject form.

    Cairncross as the fifth man appeared to be under no pressure to deny his involvement after the war but is known to have enjoyed a retirement in the south of France until his death in October 1995.....said to have enjoyed the company of a young filly.
  3. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    Incidentally, Cairncross appears as a character in the heavily-fictionalised film 'The Imitation Game', played by the actor who portrays 'Mr Branson' in 'Downton Abbey'! However, there is apparently no evidence that Alan Turing even knew Cairncross at Bletchley Park, let alone was a close friend and colleague of his as depicted in the film.
  4. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    The other book that has revelations about the Cambridge 5 is Special Tasks by Pavel Sudoplatov, he was the NKVD officer who headed the operatives partisans behind German Lines.
  5. L J

    L J Senior Member

    Sorry,but this is not true : Ultra did not have the full orders of battle of Citadel .The source of what the Soviets knew was their own intelligence service.
  6. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    "Cairncross however went much further; he was able to provide Krechin with the full texts of intercepted messages, which contained the identifications of the Soviet Units, their proportionate strengths and exact locations. Given this forewarning the Soviet Commander was able to move his Regiments at the last minute and completely outmaneuver the enemy."

    "Even more important Krechin was able to obtain a precise list of all the Luftwaffe Squadrons in the area, which enabled our airforce to carry out surprise bombing attacks on no fewer than fifteen aerodromes along a line from Smolensk to the Sea of Azov,several weeks in advance of the German offensive"

    An Intelligence Service would claim the Cairncross product as its own - indeed he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for this information
  7. L J

    L J Senior Member

    Source please ?
  8. L J

    L J Senior Member

    The fact is that the Soviets had captured several Enigma machines in the winter of 1941/1942 and were able to decrypt the Enigma machines and did not need Ultra,neither Cairncross .
  9. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    The source was Yuri Modin - Cairncross's KGB handler.

    The Enigmas were upgraded several times during WWII and British de-crypts were much swifter than the Russians achieved. Later in the War the Russians had much success with Radio Games using captured machines and their operators but that was on a limited tactical as opposed to a strategic level.
  10. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    Somewhere, and for the moment I can't remember where, there's a history that states that UK passed all the intercept information before Kursk to the Russians, but implied the source was an agent in Berlin in order to conceal Ultra. I'd treat the claims of Cairncross' handler with some caution. There could be various motives for a former(?) KGB agent to indulge in a bit of disinformation. Anybody who takes the word of someone like Modin at face value, then I've got a lovely bridge I can sell you.
  11. L J

    L J Senior Member

    Glantz writes the folowing (in :Soviet operational intelligence in the Kursk offensive P 25):the last valide report of the British was sent in april 1943 (= 3 months before Citadel),and the content was a German report about their offensive intentions in the summer of 1943.
  12. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books


    I have seen a lot of the decrypts done in Bletchley Park of German material from the Eastern Front, already in autumn 1941. Some of this was passed on to Churchill. Unlike in North Africa there is good coverage of ground forces, not just air.

    The attached file is from HW5/270, and I think it was probably a 1-2 day delay decode, if that much.

    All the best


    Attached Files:

  13. L J

    L J Senior Member

    AHF : Christos Military and Intelligence corner :Tuesday;july 23 2013 :Soviet Codebreakers of WWII :

    "In the late 1941,the Soviets were able to capture Enigma machines and documentation of the 2nd German Army .
  14. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I think the header on this thread is an exaggeration. I doubt that Cairncross or any other one man made the Soviet victory at Kursk possible. I have an old book by Geoffrey Jukes in which he reports that the Soviets were also getting intelligence about German intentions from "Lucy" and other networks. Of course in 1941 the Soviets got ample warning about Barbarossa from multiple sources; the difference was that in 1943 they evaluated and used their intelligence properly. Stalin paid attention to that intelligence, he listened to what Zhukov and Vasilevsky told him, and he shelved his own plan for a spoiling offensive and agreed to let the Germans attack first and then hit them on the backhand. And after that you have the vital contributions by the field commanders, especially Rokossovsky, Vatutin, and Rotmistrov. In 1941, Stalin ran the whole show, or tried to; in 1943, the Soviet high command worked as a team. Kursk was the victory of a new Soviet military system, not a single man.
    canuck likes this.
  15. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Well that doesn't say the Soviets cracked Enigma. Here is what it says:

    Period 41/42:

    Period 43/44:
    And most crucially on Kursk:
    And his assessment:
    Captured machines would help. Captured keys however would not allow later traffic to be read without cryptanalysis, since the keys would be changed. There appears to be no evidence this happened, unless you have other sources contradicting Christos.

    All the best

  16. L J

    L J Senior Member

    About the report from von Weichs (april 1943) : the content is an estimation of the Soviet concentrations and locations IF Citadel would be executed : the value of the report for the Soviets is meaningless,as the Soviets were aware of their own locations and concentrations .

    Glantz writes in "Soviet operational intelligence in the Kursk operation P25/27 " :

    The LAST valid report transmitted by the British was purported to have been a substantive April 1943 German report on their offensive intentions in the summer of 1943.

    If 10 weeks before the start of Citadel, the Soviets no longer received valid British reports about Citadel,but,when Citadel started,the Soviets knew as much about the German intentions as the Germans themselves,the logical conclusion is that during these 10 weeks,the Soviets learned almost everything about Citadel,via their own intelligence,which was more than the decoding of Enigma ,because,and this question never has been answered validly : how much of the German orders on Citadel was transmitted by Enigma ? I would not be surprised if Humint was as much imported for the Soviet findings on Citadel as was Sigint/Elint .
  17. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    That's all possible. But I take it then that there is no proof that the Soviets were reading Enigma on a scale that the British did. Which was all I was interested in.

    All the best

  18. L J

    L J Senior Member

    OTOH,In 2 articles(The Soviets and Ultra,and,More on the Soviets and Ultra, 1988/1989) )Jeffrey Jukes posits that Russian mathematicians with the help of cipher machines captured at Stalingrad,broke the Enigma system in 1943.
  19. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Yes, but without any direct evidence, as Christos also points out in the article you bring as evidence:

    It appears that Christos is of the view that Juke is mistaken.

    All the best

  20. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day gedburgh22 very senior member.25th cairncross-the man who made soviet victory at kursk possible.a very interesting post.with different's of opinion in the post's.but there must be some truth in all of them.thank you for posting regards bernard85

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