Has 'Unbreakable' WWII Message Been Cracked?

Canadian man says WWI codebook was the key

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 17, 2012 12:13 PM CST | Updated Dec 22, 2012 12:30 PM CST

(Newser) – A recently discovered coded message from World War II may have been cracked. A British intelligence agency took the 27 blocks of text, found attached to the remains of a pigeon discovered in a UK chimney, to the public last month after its codebreakers had no luck. Now, a Canadian may have solved the mystery. Gord Young says it took him just 17 minutes to figure out; the agency, however, maintains "that without access to the relevant codebooks and details of any additional encryption used, the message will remain impossible to decrypt."

Young had access to a WWI codebook, inherited from his great uncle. He believes the note logs German positions, and used an acronym-filled code employed in the prior war. He explains that seeing "sergeant" spelled "serjeant" in the message "almost automatically tells you that the acronyms are going to be similar to those of WWI. It's not complex." The BBC presents his deciphered version, which includes AOAKN, per Young, "Artillery Observer At 'K' Sector, Normandy."

This photo shows the skeletal remains of a pigeon discovered in the chimney of a house in southern England which carried a mysterious, long-forgotten message from World War II.
This photo shows the skeletal remains of a pigeon discovered in the chimney of a house in southern England which carried a mysterious, long-forgotten message from World War II.   (AP Photo / Royal Pigeon Racing Association)
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