WW2 Pigeon discovered; code may never be broken

As you may have seen in the news recently, the remains of a Second World War code-carrying pigeon have been discovered in a chimney in Surrey. The bird had a small red canister attached to its leg, of the type used by SOE – the Special Operations Executive. The code inside cannot be broken with any existing codes, and is currently being worked on by Government code experts at GCHQ.

It is entirely possible that the code may be unbreakable. It could have been written using a unique, ‘once only’ code, which will have long since been destroyed. Alternatively, it could be written using a code written for a specific operations, again, which may have long since been destroyed. Without any contextual information, it will be difficult, even with the use of ‘super-computers‘, to break the code.

Even if the code can be broken, it could well be something completely mundane. It could be a message from a unit confirming that they have achieved an objective, or sending a message back to headquarters for more toilet paper.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20164591

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20458792

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14 Comments

Filed under News, World War Two

14 responses to “WW2 Pigeon discovered; code may never be broken

  1. I’ve been watching this with a bit of wry humour. All the modern miracles of computing at hand, and the code-breakers have put a plea out to the public! Wouldn’t it be great if this message had some tremendous insight on some great battle? Though I wonder if the British Army would’ve coded a request for TP. (Now, the US Army would not only code the request for TP, but would require the statistical need to back up the request – and all in triplicate! :D )

  2. That is extremely interesting, I would love to know if they do break the code.

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  4. secondbysecondworldwar

    That’s a marvellous story. I have a great book about pigeons during the Second World War. It’s by Garry McCafferty and titled ‘They had no choice—-Racing pigeons at war’ (Tempus, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2002), and it’s full of similar wild and whimsical tales.

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