Before military forces had secure cell phones and satellite communications, they used carrier pigeons. The highly trained birds delivered sensitive information from one location to another during World War II. Often, the birds found the intended recipient. But not always.
A dead pigeon was recently discovered inside a chimney in Surrey, England. There for roughly 70 years, the bird had a curious canister attached to its leg. Inside was a coded message that has stumped the experts.
The code features a series of 27 groups of five letters. According to Reuters, nobody from Britain's Government Communications Headquarters has been able to decipher it. The message was sent by a Sgt. W. Scott to someone or something identified as "Xo2."
A spokesperson remarked, "Although it is disappointing that we cannot yet read the message brought back by a brave carrier pigeon, it is a tribute to the skills of the wartime code-makers that, despite working under severe pressure, they devised a code that was indecipherable both then and now."
The bird was discovered by a homeowner doing renovations earlier this month. In an interview with Reuters, David Martin remarked that bits of birds kept falling from the chimney. Eventually, Margin saw the red canister and speculated that it might contain a secret message. And it seems as if the message will always be secret.
Carrier pigeons played a vital role in wars due to their incredible homing skills. All told, U.K. forces used about 250,000 of the birds during World War II.