chapter  20
11 Pages

Orders for Operation ‘Catapult’, 2 July

This was one of the last enciphered signals to be despatched before the general ban on French wireless communications came into effect with the cease-fire. It is likely that it had been intercepted by the British monitoring service and inherently probable that the cryptanalysts would have worked backwards through the accumulated signals once they had obtained the keys (via the Narval), reading the most recent items first. If this was the case, then the importance of this signal would have been readily apparent to the Director of Naval Intelligence, who would have ensured that Pound and Phillips, and, thereby, Churchill, saw it without delay on 1 July. Of those present at the 1800 Cabinet meeting, only these three and Alexander had access to ‘Special Intelligence’ based on decryption, so that the possibility of grasping a lifeline provided by Darlan himself could not be discussed, hence the need for a further meeting to draft a final list of options which included United States involvement.