Message in old cipher led to Adm. Yamamoto's death: U.S. documents

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The successful U.S. decrypting of secret Japanese communication messages that led to Imperial Japanese Navy Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto's death during World War II was because one of those messages was written in an old cipher that should have earlier been destroyed, according to declassified U.S. intelligence documents.

Although the U.S. military said after the war that it ambushed him after deciphering related Japanese Navy messages, it has long been unknown how specifically the United States deciphered what kind of messages.

Yamamoto, then commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet, was killed in an aerial ambush by U.S. Army Air Force planes on April 18, 1943, on the way to Ballalae in the Northern Solomon Islands from Rabaul, the main base of Japanese military and naval activity in the South Pacific at the time.

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