WWII Message's Code May Be Unbreakable

Experts seek help decoding newly discovered missive

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 23, 2012 7:28 AM CST

(Newser) – While renovating his chimney, a UK man discovered a long-lost coded message from World War II attached to the remains of a pigeon. Now experts are trying to figure out what the message said—and so far, they're at a loss, the BBC reports. A British intelligence agency is calling on the public to help them decode the 27 blocks of text, but they aren't overly optimistic that they'll actually be able to do so, since such missives were often coded in a way that no one but the sender and recipient could understand.

"Unless you get rather more idea than we have of who actually sent this message and who it was sent to, we are not going to find out what the underlying code being used was," says a coding historian. If the message depended on a "one-time pad"—a means of linking a message to an entirely random code—there may be no way to read it. It's also possible that it was associated with a since-destroyed code book used for a specific mission. The best idea so far from the public: "Since the message was found in the chimney, the first two words were most likely to be 'Dear Santa,'" the historian says. Click through for an image of the full message.

A screen grab from BBC video of the message.
A screen grab from BBC video of the message.   (BBC video)
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