Only the words ‘Pigeon Service’ at the top of the strip of paper were comprehensible. The rest of the message that read ‘AOAKN HVPKD FNFJW’ baffled codebreakers for years.
The message was from a British soldier who had been parachuted down into occupied Normandy to tip off RAF Bomber Command about the locations of German forces prior to the D-Day landings.
The pigeon made it back to Britain but got stuck in a chimney in Surrey. The bird was not discovered until 1982 when a fireplace was ripped out and the message was found strapped to the bird’s leg.
Researchers have now used a World War I artillery code book to reveal that the message was sent by Sgt William Stott, a 27-year-old paratrooper in 1944.