To Be A “Lifelong Pigeon Fancier”

Fascinating, and fun, story. (pic via WSJ)

But I do hope never to be known as a “lifelong pigeon fancier.” :-)

Pigeon Defeats U.K. Code Breakers – WSJ.com: LONDON—Britain’s world-renowned code-cracking intelligence experts have admitted they’ve met their match—in a dead pigeon. The U.K’s secretive communications intelligence agency, known as GCHQ, issued a statement Friday acknowledging it has been stumped by an encrypted message found attached to a dead carrier pigeon believed to have been sent during World War II.

During World War II, the U.K. government enlisted some 250,000 pigeons from owners across the country who signed up for the volunteer National Pigeon Service in exchange for pigeon feed.

The birds carried messages for the army, navy, air force and intelligence agents, including from behind enemy lines in Germany, France and elsewhere. Among vital intelligence they carried: messages about the location of German bomb-making factories.

Thousands of pigeons were killed in service, according to Mr. Hill. Some were killed when the planes they were being transported in were shot down; others were taken out by German marksmen as they flew over the French coast; while yet others were eaten by falcons once they returned to British territory.

Related links:
They Cracked This 250-Year-Old Code, and Found a Secret Society Inside