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.
- Pigeon holds WWII coded secret (bbc.co.uk)
- Pigeon’s Message Has Code-Breakers Stumped – Sky News (news.sky.com)
- Code Found on Pigeon Baffles British Cryptographers (nytimes.com)
- WWII pigeon’s code proves to be enigma (scotsman.com)