Friday 2 November 2012

WWII carrier pigeon message discovered in Surrey chimney

WWII carrier pigeon message discovered in Surrey chimney

Here's a corking story of the kind that is so beloved of this blogger and which we have had little of recently - a remarkable historical find with an edge of oddness about it.

Plenty of interesting, long-forgotten pieces of the past can be discovered during renovation work on old buildings and nesting birds are often a problem for those houses that still have a fireplace with a chimney.  Here, however, the two have combined to create this amazing discovery - the skeletal remains of a Second World War carrier pigeon complete with leg capsule and, more importantly, the original message still contained within! 

Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire
The whole story is almost unbelievable in the way it has unfolded and it isn't complete yet.  The message, sent by an RAF sergeant from still-occupied Normandy in the early stages of D-Day and probably intended for Bletchley Park - a mere 80 miles from where the message was eventually discovered - or Field-Marshal Montgomery's London headquarters in St Paul's School, Barnes, is unusual not only for remaining attached to a dead pigeon's leg undiscovered (and undelivered) for over 60 years but for being in code when the majority of messages sent back from the D-Day operation were not.  This implies that the contents were of major importance and highly secret.

Quest to crack secrets of lost D-Day pigeon

Unfortunately no-one seems to know the code that was used and there are no extant records that reveal the cipher employed by this Sergeant W. Stot.  Unless the modern-day codebreakers at GCHQ in Cheltenham, to whom the message has been handed, can use their skills to decode this mysterious message the information it contains will likely remain unknown.  Would it have had an important bearing on the course of the war?  Hopefully GCHQ can tell us, but either way it is a fantastic tale.


  1. This is so exciting! I love it when crazy things like this get discovered. Oh, I hope they can decipher the code... and that it's something as exciting as it promises...


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