Arnold Hargreaves


Arnold Hargreaves, age 99, is the last surviving member* of a boarding party from HMS Bulldog that in 1941 captured an Enigma machine from a stricken German U-boat.

The information discovered from analysing the machine, and the associated code books, famously helped decrypt the secret messages passed between German military units in occupied Europe and between the ships and submarines hunting down Allied naval convoys on the high seas.

Arnold, born in 1917, was one of a family of 8 children. When he was orphaned at 7 he was taken in by Barnardo’s; “It was the first time I got in to a bed with clean sheets,” he recalls. When he was 16 Barnardo’s helped him find a job with a printer in Bedford. “The company took on quite a few Barnardo’s boys because they knew that they would be good workers.”

He received his call-up papers at the start of the war and chose to join the Royal Navy. After training he was drafted from his home port of Portsmouth, to HMS Bulldog, as an Able Seaman.

During the Battle of Britain Arnold remembers the ship being attacked and a number of crew were killed. “We regularly patrolled up and down the English Channel, picking up RAF crews who had been shot down.”

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*Subsequent to this article being published, Arnold Hargreaves sadly passed away on 15th October 2017, aged 100.

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