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The Mystery May Remain Unsolved…

The mystery of the dead wartime carrier pigeon found in a chimney in Surrey, which we brought  in August, may remain unsolved as decoding experts at GCHQ have been unable to decipher the bird’s message. Here is GCHQ’s explanation of the reasons, and the BBC’s report on the latest developments.

The story has attracted widespread coverage, and was the topic of a special report on BBC’s Breakfast programme earlier this month. Watch the clip from the programme here.

There was also an in-depth article on the Mail Online website, and other articles here and here.

If you want to have a go at cracking the code yourself, here is the message below.





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5 Responses to “The Mystery May Remain Unsolved…”

  1. Gord Young 25 November 2012 at 5:27 am //

    Dear Sirs:
    Two pigeons are involved, not one. Always a back up to the coded message. One survived, the other wound up in a chimney.
    NURP 40TW 194
    NURP 37OK 76
    Not sure which one was in the chimney, but, its banding should tell you which it was. Then you will know the other survived to tell Betchley Park.
    Thanks !!!
    Gord Young

    Re: Pigeon Mystery Code

    Dear Editors:
    I am shocked that the British Army’s Artillery Section could not come up with the “partial” on the coding. Thus, I am quite interested in the matter of the code sent by: Serjeant W. Stott, 27th June @ 1526″ [or, 3:26pm]. Suspect he is, or, maybe have been, using the same Artillery Grid as was used in WW-1.
    I have my great-uncle’s flying books from WW-1, and there sections and sub-sections to the artillery map. The first line is almost always, the “calling code” of the artillery spotter….so that someone “in the rear”, or, in this case, England, would know that for sure it is Stott and not someone else who has sent the note.
    Twice, Serjeant Stott is confirming something. “F. N.” is “Final Note”…..not sure what “FJW” means. “F.N. K. T. Q.” however, is always artillery lingo for “Final Note KnownTo Quarters”. [“Quarters” is the lingo for where he and the others are stationed at the time of sending.] That is his sign-off for the time being…telling whoever “X02” is that that is the latest update on what they have for information.
    Beyond that, I have no flipping hope of helping you. I quite suspect, that, not all of that code means something. In short, Stott is using “fillers” so as to confuse anyone trying to read it. In other words, “RQXSR” is the code for “Read Quarters [E]X[tra] Supplemental Reading”. That is telling operator “XO2” that they are to read every third coding or whatever…..who knows what the spacing is ?? I don’t, but, that is what “RQXSR” means. Its telling the “XO2” operator in England to go to the Extra Supplemental Reading code book to understand his artillery coding he is sending.
    Now. There are several William Stotts as “serjeants” in the Commonwealth War Graves.
    STOTT, WILLIAM Fusilier 3130687 26/05/1940 20 Royal Scots Fusiliers United Kingdom C. 38. BUS HOUSE CEMETERY
    STOTT, WILLIAM GORDON Sergeant 1232159 04/12/1942 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve United Kingdom Joint grave 2. B. 11. BEJA WAR CEMETERY
    STOTT, WILLIAM LESLIE Sergeant 508080 08/05/1945 35 Royal Air Force United Kingdom Sec. B. New Portion. Grave 102. CHESTER (OVERLEIGH) CEMETERY

    Now, there are two other W. Stotts, who are not serjeants.
    STOTT, WILLIAM Fusilier 3454758 08/07/1944 27 Lancashire Fusiliers United Kingdom II. C. 3. RANVILLE WAR CEMETERY
    STOTT, WILLIAM Private 5257646 12/03/1944 32 King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry United Kingdom Panel 9. CASSINO MEMORIAL

    A guess, could be that the “William Stott….Fusilier”, could well have been promoted “in the field”……..but, a “Fusilier” should have had training in artillery positioning.
    And, that is what Serjeant Stott is giving England.
    Is this useful? At least a “starter”??
    Gord Young
    Lakefield Heritage Research
    c/o-645 Whitaker St.
    Peterborough, ON
    K9H 7L5
    705 – 745 – 8572


  2. Steve 17 December 2012 at 4:05 am //

    AOAKN – Artillery Observer At “K” Sector, Normandy
    HVPKD – Have Panzers Know Directions
    FNFJW – Final Note [confirming] Found Jerry’s Whereabouts
    DJHFP – Determined Jerry’s Headquarters Front Posts
    CMPNW – Counter Measures [against] Panzers Not Working
    PABLIZ – Panzer Attack – Blitz
    KLDTS – Know [where] Local Dispatch Station
    27 / 1526 / 6 – June 27th, 1526 hours


  3. Steve 17 December 2012 at 4:10 am //

    All the codes seem to be based on WW1 acronyms.


  4. Brian Wernham 17 December 2012 at 11:23 am //

    This solution is nonsense. The 6th letter group is “PABUZ” not “PABLIZ” (which is the wrong number of letters anyway!). And the solution doesn’t actually make any sense. It is proof that if you stare at something for long enough you can make up any pattern you like.

    The Daily Mail and Express fell for the hoax solution straightaway!

    See here for a debunk of this:


  5. Steve T 17 December 2012 at 4:28 pm //

    As the author of that blog post, I would like to say that what was written in the Dorset Echo and subsequently repeated in the Daily Mail and by the BBC in no way reflects what Mr Young appears to have actually written here.

    The media coverage has very much presented this as Mr Young having claimed to have deciphered the message, which appears not to be the case, so if my rebuttal seems a little harsh then I offer my sincere apologies.