1. ITV Report

Pigeon reveals its war secrets

The skeleton of the pigeon, and the secret code it was carrying Photo: Bletchley Park

The skeleton of a World War Two carrier pigeon has been discovered in the chimney of a house in Surrey.

It was found by homeowner David Martin as he ripped the chimney out during renovations. The remains of the bird had a small red cylinder attached to the foot.

Inside the cylinder was a coded message. Code breakers at GCHQ in Cheltenham are now working to decipher it.

The pigeon was lost in action 70 years ago. Experts believe it would have been dispatched from Nazi-occupied France on June 6th, 1944, the day of the D-DAy invasions. It would have been bound for Bletchley Park, but must have been blown off course or, exhausted from a long flight over the channel, become disorientated and lost before collapsing.

Unlike other carrier pigeonmessages Mr Martin’s is written entirely in code. Duringthe war, Codebreakers worked there round the clock in top secret decipheringNazi codes including Enigma. It was also home to a classified MI6 pigeon loft,manned by trainer Charles Skevington.

The crack team of birds were a secret wing of the National Pigeon Service which had a squadron of 250,000 birds during World War Two. This included some of the King George VI’s birds from the Royal Pigeon Loft on the Sandringham Estate. The military pigeons were dropped behind enemy lines from bombers, where upon resistance fighters picked them up, before releasing them homeward bound with top secret messages.

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