Historians discovered a code machine used by Adolf Hitler to swap top secret messages with his generals when they saw it advertised on eBay for £9.50.
It was being advertised as a telegram machine and the historians found that it had been left in a shed in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, with ‘rubbish all over it’.
Plain commands would be entered into the teleprinter, which were then encrypted by a linked cipher machine, using 12 individual wheels with multiple settings on each, to make up the code.
The museum, in Buckinghamshire, is now asking people to search for the missing motor, which is another key piece of the equipment.
And when volunteers took the teleprinter back from Essex to the museum, they found it was stamped with the official wartime number from the German army that matched the one on a different machine recently lent from Norway.
The Lorenz SZ42, sent from Norway, resembles a typewriter and is one of around 200 Lorenz machines which were in existence during World War II
Only four are known to have survived and this particular one has the serial number 1137 and was used at the German HQ in Lillehammer, Norway. The museum believes because Norway was occupied by the Germans until the end of the war, it will have received the final surrender instruction message at 24:00 hours on May 8, 1945 – marking the end of the war.
Irene Dixon, one of the first operators of Colossus in 1944, said: ‘I am thrilled that TNMOC is able to tell the Lorenz story even better than before by displaying the amazingly complex Lorenz machine.’