LONDON — A coded message discovered with the remains of a World War II carrier pigeon has been decoded.
The message has baffled historians and codebreakers in the thirty years since David and Anne Martin discovered the bird while ripping out a fireplace at their house in Surrey.
A team of Canadian researchers at Lakefield Heritage Research now claims to have cracked the code by using a World War I artillery code book, according to the Daily Telegraph.
They found that the message was sent by 27-year-old Sgt. William Stott, who had parachuted into occupied Normandy on a reconnaissance mission, likely to assess the strength of the German occupation.
The message read:
AOAKN HVPKD FNFJW YIDDC
RQXSR DJHFP GOVFN MIAPX
PABUZ WYYNP CMPNW HJRZH
NLXKG MEMKK ONOIB AKEEQ
WAOTA RBQRH DJOFM TPZEH
LKXGH RGGHT JRZCQ FNKTQ
KLDTS FQIRW AOAKN 27 1525/6
Researchers said the message told Royal Air Force officers he was updating as required and requesting information after parachuting behind enemy lines early that morning.
So far, the message reads:
"Artillery observer at 'K' Sector, Normandy. Requested headquarters supplement report. Panzer attack - blitz. West Artillery Observer Tracking Attack.
"Lt Knows extra guns are here. Know where local dispatch station is. Determined where Jerry's headquarters front posts. Right battery headquarters right here.
"Found headquarters infantry right here. Final note, confirming, found Jerry's whereabouts. Go over field notes. Counter measures against Panzers not working.
"Jerry's right battery central headquarters here. Artillery observer at 'K' sector Normandy. Mortar, infantry attack panzers.
"Hit Jerry's Right or Reserve Battery Here. Already know electrical engineers headquarters. Troops, panzers, batteries, engineers, here. Final note known to headquarters."
Parts of the message require further decoding, but Gord Yound, one of those involved in the project, said he believes they may have been confusing on purpose.
"Maybe these are 'fillers' just to confuse the Germans or anyone else who might have got the message," he said.
Stott died a few weeks after the message was sent, according to the Economic Times.