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Pigeons at War! | Wartime Code Found on Pigeon Bone Still a Mystery 

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Old 11-24-2012, 09:03 AM
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Pigeons at War! | Wartime Code Found on Pigeon Bone Still a Mystery


This photo released by the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, shows the skeletal remains of a pigeon discovered in the chimney of a house in southern England which carried a mysterious, long-forgotten message from World War II.

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David Martin is making one last try to decode a coded World War II message found strapped to a pigeon skeleton leg in his chimney in Surrey, England.

He’s peeved that his last official hope, the British intelligence-gathering organization GCHQ, told him Friday they couldn’t break the code.

“No one is keener than I to break the code,” Martin, 74, told the Star on Friday. “I don’t believe they can’t do it. I believe they just haven’t bothered.”

Martin found the message inside a red cylinder strapped to the remains of a carrier pigeon’s leg when he was having the chimney of his 1690 house cleaned out 30 years ago.

A postwar British Army veteran himself, he first tried the Imperial War Museum and then friends and acquaintances. A knowledgeable fellow villager in Blechingley “told me to back off. It wouldn’t get decoded until the last of the Baker Boys was dead.”

The Baker Street Irregulars, nicknamed after a Sherlock Holmes gang of street kids, were special spy operatives in Britain during World War II.

Now he’s hoping someone, somewhere, “kept a stack of message pads” used for code-taking and can help piece the puzzle together.

The message, written on flimsy cigarette paper, records the sender’s signature as Sjt W Stot and the destination as X02. Nothing is known about either, GCHQ said in its Friday news release.

“GCHQ’s experts are now satisfied that the pigeon-borne message cannot be decided without access to the original cryptographic material,” the government agency said.

“Stott is not a very common name,” said Martin. “They should be able to throw something up about him.”

The pigeon would have been one of a pair; without the second pigeon, the code is unbreakable, GCHQ said. The senders would have used specialized books listing code groups of four or five letters which themselves might have been encrypted further using the single-use message pad Martin is hoping to find.

Martin’s message contains 27 five-letter code groups. The pigeon itself bore the code name NURP. 40. TW. 194 or NURP. 37. OK. 76, which has allowed the Royal Racing Pigeon Association to figure out it was born in 1940 and “almost certainly dispatched from Nazi-occupied France.

The date NURP took off on its mission, one of 250,000 enlisted for war service, remains part of the mystery. One clue: Martin’s chimney lies on the route between the site of the D-Day landings at Normandy in 1944 and Bletchley Park, the legendary code-breaking headquarters during the war.

Curators at the Bletchley Park pigeon exhibit were no help, either, Martin said.


So, basically, it was like to send the username with a pigeon, and the password with another one.
Using two different encryption algorithms.
On the bright side of the coin, enemies virtually had (at the time but also today) no chance to break the code.
However, if one of the two pigeons went missing (as it happened in this case) not even the recipient would have been able to figure out wtf was written in the message. Decypher it if you can.
Why not give a medal of honor to all those poor pigeons who lost their lives in the desperate attempt to deliver the messages? Pigeons played a key role during World War II, they'd deserve it

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Old 11-24-2012, 10:38 AM
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Re: Pigeons at War! | Wartime Code Found on Pigeon Bone Still a Mystery

think it says: help, i'm stuck in a chimney.

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