Mathematician Finally Cracks POW's Coded Letters
Hidden messages inside letters sent during WWII
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2013 7:15 AM CDT
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(Newser) – British soldier John Pryor sent letters home to his family from a Nazi POW camp for five years during World War II. Seventy years later, they finally know what he actually wrote. A mathematician at Plymouth University has deciphered the coded messages hidden inside the innocuous-looking letters for the first time since the war, revealing Pryor was really asking for items to help him escape and reporting details of German military targets, the BBC reports.

The BBC explains that the code, which Pryor would have learned from British secret agents, involved taking the first letters of each word, translating those letters to numbers, and then translating the numbers back to letters. Deciphered, this sentence—"A few weeks ago we arranged a rather useful scheme, so men could get 'lager'"—reads "MAPS." The letters would have been deciphered at the time by British intelligence, but were then passed on to the family in their original form. "I had known for 30 years that my father had these letters, but he could not remember the full code and so their contents lay hidden," Pryor's son, John, told the Plymouth Herald. "I can now see that despite their plight, he and his peers took incredible risks and it has only made me admire their resilience and ingenuity even more."

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Showing 3 of 11 comments
KDickley
May 5, 2013 10:49 AM CDT
It would be nice if our Prez supported and honored our past and present military. Not just lip service.
homer57
May 2, 2013 1:44 PM CDT
The TRUTH is: so many would actually just give up! they'd probably give up trying to escape, because they might offend someone or they'd be called rasist or sexist or crazy etc But: as Clint Eastwood said in "Heartbreak Ridge: You Improvise, you adapt, you overcome!! Not this generation they are too soft and too lazy and too go along to get along generation!! NO nation can stand up to these standards!
HANKHILL
May 1, 2013 8:52 PM CDT
nice story!!