Friday, November 23, 2012

Crack the Pigeon

Every now and then a news story comes along that's so fascinating it's difficult to think of anything else. My post a fortnight ago about Jimmy Savile was one. I came across another, slightly more light-hearted you'll be happy to know, this week.

A few weeks ago David Martin of Surrey was renovating his chimney when he came across the remains of a pigeon. Attached to its leg was a small red canister. Inside that was a piece of paper headed 'Pigeon Service.' Beneath that were 27 blocks of handwritten code.

The pigeon had been dispatched during World War Two with its coded message, but had obviously experienced difficulties. The message never arrived. Now after two weeks of trying, the finest minds in Britain have conceded defeat. They can't break the code. They're hoping the public can help them crack it.

Given the pigeon was found in a chimney, the only suggestion they've had so far is that the first two blocks mean 'Dear Santa.'


Dan - Friday


  1. Dan, fascinating. Please tell us if they do crack the code. For now, I hope they give the brave pigeon's bones a hero's burial.

  2. Poor pigeon but I must say I'm intrigued about the message. I wonder if anyone will ever crack it?

  3. Dan, you scooped the New York Times, which had a piece on this today, Saturday. WITHOUT pictures. Hooray for you!

  4. I compliment you all for not suggesting the code-breaker might be found in pigeon English.

  5. Well, of course, the funniest thing of all is that the code (in this era of hopelessly complex encryption) is just a book cypher, which go back far enough so that Sherlock Holmes solves on in a story. It's simplicity itself: all who need to read the message know that the book is, say WAR AND PEACE and that each set of numbers in the coded message, say 11-131, designates a page number (11) and the 131st word on the page. Easy-peasy, unless you haven't got the book, in which case impossible shmimpossible, as with this one. I personally think it's hilarious.