Andrew James John Mackenzie
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Cracked? Carrier Pigeon Code from ‘K’ Sector, Normandy

Declared unbreakable almost a month ago by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the encrypted code found on the remains of a World War Two carrier pigeon may have been cracked at last. An Ontario based group dedicated to the pursuit of local and amateur history, Mr. Gord Young from Peterborough, Ontario, claims that it took only 17 minutes to crack the supposedly impossible code. Through the use of a World War One Royal Flying Corp aerial observers code book from his late great-uncle of the 92 Canadian Squadron, Young of the Lakefield Heritage Research group might indeed have solved the perplexing riddle.

In this author's last article, "Bird-brained; Carrier Pigeon Coding Baffles Experts," it seemed impossible that the code would be solved. Believing that GCHQ was over-complicating the issue, Young decided to use materials predating the Second World War. After 17 minutes, Young had apparently solved the puzzle:

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.
Key Words

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

Although the vast majority of this message has been translated, there are a number of words that have yet to be uncovered, owing in part to their specialised nature as wartime acronyms and pieces of jargon. Alternatively, they themselves might be purposefully illegible so as to confuse the enemy in the event of an interception.


When asked to comment on the apparent revelation, GCHQ insist that they were correct in assuming there could be no solution to the secret:


“We stand by our statement of 22 November 2012 that without access to the relevant codebooks and details of any additional encryption used, the message will remain impossible to decrypt…Similarly 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.”


Certainly, opinions concerning the translation theory are debatable and the authenticity concerning the message and its origins and their reliance are mixed. However, despite certain misgivings, these translations offer a tantalizing insight into the possible motivations for this message and go some way into solving the secret meanings of the carrier pigeon code.
Gordon Corera, “WWII pigeon message stumps GCHQ decoders,” 23 November 2012 Copyright © 2012 British Broadcasting Company (BBC).
Anna Browning, “Has World War II carrier pigeon message been cracked?” 16 December 2012 Copyright © 2012 BBC.
All copyrighted material used in this article or cited by this website is the property of their respective owners and in no way accepts any responsibility for an infringement on one of the above.
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