GCHQ code breakers stumped by D-Day pigeon that got lost
Retired intelligence officers are being sought to crack a coded message sent during the Allied invasion of France
CODE breakers from World War II are being asked to take on one last mission: deciphering a message found on a dead carrier pigeon sent by Allied forces during the D-Day invasion.
The remains of the pigeon and the small red container carrying the message, were discovered in the chimney of a house in Bletchingley, Surrey, almost 70 years after its fateful flight. The house is only 80 miles from Bletchley Park, the UK's main code decryption centre during World War II, and experts believe it may have been trying to return there when it died.
Code breakers at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham have tried to translate the message but admit they're stumped because it's written in a code long-forgotten by security services, says The Daily Telegraph.
GCHQ wants retired intelligence officers who worked at Bletchley Park to come forward and offer their expertise.
Historians believe the message was almost certainly sent from France on June 6, 1944, during the invasion that would ultimately free Europe from Nazi occupation. Due to a radio blackout, messenger pigeons were used by the Allies to relay information about the campaign to the top brass running the war.
A GCHQ historian, known only as Tony for security reasons, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the type of coded message carried by the pigeon was designed to be read only by the sender and the recipient. "Unless you get rather more idea than we have about who actually sent the message and who it was sent to, we are not going to be able to find out what the underlying code was," he said.
The remains of the pigeon were found earlier this month by home owner David Martin while he was renovating his fireplace.
The pigeon message is as follows:
AOAKN HVPKD FNFJW YIDDC
RQXSR DJHFP GOVFN MIAPX
PABUZ WYYNP CMPNW HJRZH
NLXKG MEMKK ONOIB AKEEQ
WAOTA RBQRH DJOFM TPZEH
LKXGH RGGHT JRZCQ FNKTQ
KLDTS FQIRW AOAKN 27 1525/6