Episode 2: HYDRA and ROCKEX

In 1941, as Axis powers tighten their grip on occupied Europe, secure communication among Allied forces becomes more important than ever.  Responding to this need, Canadian engineers at Camp X design and deploy HYDRA.

 

Untitled Document

(Music: Maple Leaf Forever)

(This video is all black and white, with mostly vintage footage. Grainy video footage: CSE Badge in background with text: Communications Security Establishment Film Unit Presents Communications Security Establishment News Reel Issue No.2)

(Video footage - Outdoors, two Canadian soldiers operators, viewed from behind, working with electronic equipment - Close-up, soldier with headphones in front of the radio equipment.)

1941. Axis powers tighten their grip on occupied Europe, and reliable, secure communications among Allied forces becomes more important than ever.

(Still photos: Three long, barracks-like buildings with ten windows each, the buildings are inside barbed wire. Inside a hangar: Large, heavy electronic equipment with gauges, reels and transceiver towers. Video of soldiers raising 7-8 meter wooden poles.)

On the shores of Lake Ontario, inside the secret facility known as Camp X, HYDRA is born! Radio equipment is in short supply because of the war effort, but that’s no problem for plucky Canadian engineers with a can-do attitude!

(Animation: Map of North Atlantic. Radio towers emit waves from Washington, Ottawa and London.)

Built from parts scavenged from across North America, HYDRA kept information flowing between London, Washington and Ottawa throughout the war.

(Video of ROCKEX cipher machine)

The beating heart of HYDRA was the ROCKEX cipher machine, designed and built by Canadian electrical engineer Benjamin deForest Bayly.

(Images of women and men working with cipher machines at HYDRA and of image of communications equipment inside HYDRA building)

Allowing allowed Allied forces to communicate securely with undercover operatives deep behind enemy lines, as well as intercepting Axis communications, HYDRA and the ROCKEX provided intelligence vital to the war effort.

(Photos: HYDRA building. Long cylindrical tunnel entrance to the Diefenbunker. Another room at HYDRA with people working on cipher machines.)

Although Camp X was shut down in 1946, HYDRA operations continued and were transferred to the Diefenbunker in Ottawa, where they continued to provide Canada with important signals intelligence and communications for many more years.

(Video: Sign, “Early Cypher Machines…” in CSE Museum - Camp X Artefacts from HYDRA - Wide shot inside CSE Museum - Camp X display inside the CSE Museum.)

HYDRA communications equipment and a ROCKEX cipher machine are part of CSE’s collection of historical artefacts on display at the Edward Drake Building, a reminder of CSE’s long-standing mission to provide and protect information, through leading edge technology, through synergy with our partners.

(Photos: Aerial view of three very large HYDRA buildings in Camp X - HYDRA buildings - Aerial view of CSE Campus on Bronson and Heron - New CSE building on Ogilvy Rd

For over 70 years CSE has been Canada’s national cryptologic agency, safeguarding Canada’s security through information superiority.

(CSE Badge with end credits: Produced by CSE Film Unit. Recorded at Edward Drake Building, Ottawa.)

(Final image: Canada is written across the screen with the Canadian flag waving over the last letter “a”.)

End of video