Famous Enigma machine sells for £149k

An Enigma machine, used by the German military to send coded messages during the Second World War, is expected to fetch �70,000 at auction at Sotheby's. Photo: Press Association' '
An Enigma machine, used by the German military to send coded messages during the Second World War, is expected to fetch �70,000 at auction at Sotheby's. Photo: Press Association' '

A rare surviving example of an Enigma machine, used by the German military to send coded messages during the Second World War, today more than doubled the price it was expected to fetch at auction.

The machine went for £149,000 including buyer’s premium at Sotheby’s in London. Its pre-sale estimate had been £50,000 to £70,000.

The machines were vital to the Nazi war effort but the Allies broke the codes in Bletchley - a feat said to have shortened the war by several years.

The work done to crack the codes by Alan Turing and fellow code-breakers at Bletchley Park was immortalised in the Benedict Cumberbatch film The Imitation Game.

Few examples remain as many of the machines were destroyed by German forces as they retreated.

The machine in the sale, which dated from 1943 and had most recently belonged to a European museum, was bought by a bidder on the phone, whose identity has not yet been disclosed.

Poundon Hill looking towards Bicester.

Poundon Hill looking towards Bicester.

The code breakers were synonymous with Bucks during the Second World War. Not too far away in Poundon, a Hamlet near Steeple Claydon and Bicester, was the site of stations 53b and 53c of the Special Operations Executive.

Just outside the village is Tower Hill Business Park which was previously Poundon Hill Wireless Station, a FCO/MI6 signals intelligence station. After approval from Cabinet, it was officially formed by Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on July 22 1940, to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe (and later, in South East Asia also) against the Axis powers, and to aid local resistance movements.

Few people even knew of the organisation’s existence but was sometimes referred to as “the Baker Street Irregulars”, after the location of its London headquarters. It was also known as “Churchill’s Secret Army” or the “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”.