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Are we closer to cracking the code?

The mystery of the secret code carried by a World War 2 carrier pigeon found dead in a chimney in Surrey continues to generate widespread interest and discussion.

Gord Young, Editor of Lakefield Heritage Research in Ontario, Canada, contacted the RPRA with a possible solution, based on World War 1 Artillery Coding. Mr Young said “We have been able to unravel the so-called “unbreakable” code of the pigeon remains in the chimney from WW2….and, its “signal box”. The message is indeed breakable, this is what we have found so far.

We have assumed that the “Z” is the same as the WW1 Artillery Code in which “Z” was indicating “smoke shells” fired by batteries. [“Z” here could be “batteries”]. The British would have landed in Sector A to Sector C. The Yanks to the west would have landed somewhere in Sector D to Sector F. That is what prompts the Acronym, YIDDC – Yanks Infantry Division [now in] Direct Contact [with the British]

AOAKN – Artillery Observer At “K” Sector, Normandy
RQXSR – Requested [Head] Quarters Supplement Report
PABLIZ – Panzer Attack – Blitz
NLXKG – Now loading [e] X [tra] {sector] “K” Guns
WAOTA – West Artillery Observer Tracking Attack
LKXGH – Lt. Knows [e] X [tra] Guns [are] Here
KLDTS – Know [where] Local Dispatch Station [is]
HVPKD – Have Panzer “K” [sector] Determined
DJHFP – Determined Jerry’s Headquarters Front Posts
RBQRH – Right Battery [Head] Quarters Right Here
FQIRW – Found [head] Quarters Infantry Right Here
FNFJW – Final Note [confirming] Found Jerry’s Whereabouts
GOVFN – Go Over Field Notes [this is the same short form as WW-1] Stott is asking UK to compare this note to his “drop note” and his “noon note”
CMPNW – Counter Measures [against] Panzers Not Working
DJOFM – could be “Determined Jerry’s Other Field Mortars
JRZCQ – Jerry’s Right Battery Central [Head]Quarters [here]
AOAKN – Artillery Observer at “K’-sector, Normandy Stott is confirming he sent the above information to UK’s XO2 operator and not the Jerrys
YIDDC – Yanks Infantry Division [now in] Direct Contact
MIAPX – Mortar, Infantry Attack Panzers [e]X [tra] Stott is probably telling England that they are attacking Panzers separated from the main body of tanks ?
HJRZH – Hit Jerry’s Right [or Reserve] Battery Here [or Headquarters]
AKEEQ – Already Know Electrical Engineers [head] Quarters
TPZEH – Troops, Panzers, Batteries, Engineers, Here
FNKTO – Final Note Known To [head]Quarters [here implied]

[Sent] 27 / 1526 / 6   [June 27th @ 1526 hours or 3:26pm]. He used two pigeons to send his copies that afternoon: NURP 40TW 194 and NURP 37 OK 76.

It’s a guess, a simple guess, but suspect that Stott was dropped about 5-6am and reported to the UK that he was down and safe with his pigeons. His next message with two pigeons would have been about noon, and now this is his afternoon report. He would get one more off about supper-time and, in an emergency situation, one before sundown.

This seems to be the man who sent the message: STOTT, WILLIAM
Service No:3454758
Date of Death:08/07/1944
Regiment/Service:Lancashire Fusiliers 2/5th Bn.
Grave Reference: II. C. 3.
Additional Information: Son of James and Jane Stott, of Hooley Bridge, Heywood, Lancashire

If so, then his message of June 27th would mean he lived only a few more weeks.”



The RPRA forwarded this possible solution to GCHQ who replied, “Thank you for your email and the information contained with it regarding a proposed solution for the coded message found on the pigeon skeleton.

Our experts are satisfied that the pigeon-borne message assumed to have been sent during the Second World War cannot be decoded without access to the original cryptographic material.

During the war, the methods used to encode messages naturally needed to be as secure as possible and various methods were used. The senders would often have specialist codebooks in which each code group of four or five letters had a meaning relevant to a specific operation, allowing much information to be sent in a short message. For added security, the code groups could then themselves be encrypted using, for example, a one-time pad.

The message found at Bletchingley had 27 five-letter code groups, and the GCHQ experts believe its contents are consistent with this method.

This means that without access to the relevant codebooks and details of any additional encryption used, it will remain impossible to decrypt.

Of course it is also impossible to verify any proposed solutions, but those put forward without reference to the original cryptographic material are unlikely to be correct.”

This statement is backed up by the Bletchley Park Trust, whose representative said, “Thanks for sending the decrypt & keeping me posted. I’m afraid the suggestion put forward cannot be verified, just like the partial suggestions both we & GCHQ have received. Please see [the] statement from GCHQ, which I echo on behalf of the Bletchley Park Trust.”

So where does the mystery lead from here, we wonder?

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