×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

WW2 Carrier Pigeon and Undecoded Message Found In Chimney

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the flue-the-coop dept.

Communications 287

BigBadBus writes "The BBC is reporting that the remains of a World War 2 carrier pigeon were found during renovation of a chimney in England. What is interesting is that the pigeon's remains still had its message attached to the leg ring; even more interesting, this is the first recorded instance of a code being used rather than plain text. The successor to WW2 code-breaking HQ Bletchley Park, the GCHQ, is trying to decipher this unique code. Maybe a Slashdot reader can beat them to it?"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

287 comments

I got it! (5, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#41855487)

It says, "Dresden agrees to surrender, no need to firebomb, Feb. 12, 1945"

Re:I got it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856095)

It says, "Japan agrees to surrender, tell our US allies no need to H-bomb, Aug. 5, 1945"

Re:I got it! (2)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856491)

Nope, it's a list of future MS Products keys. Office 2020 and Windows 13 included. Those are Volume License keys, which makes them even more valuable.
I now propose the nice elderly couple who found the message to be interrogated and summarily fined+jailed for Software Piracy. Think of the children!

Undecoded? (4, Informative)

Revotron (1115029) | about a year and a half ago | (#41855533)

So, encoded?

Re:Undecoded? (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#41855735)

It could be random text, in which case it's not encoded, but it is (and will remain) undecoded.

Re:Undecoded? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855869)

Then it is undeciphered not undecoded.

Re:Undecoded? (4, Funny)

ddd0004 (1984672) | about a year and a half ago | (#41855785)

I prefer the doubly redundant not not undecoded. Oh well, back to my technical writing job.

Re:Undecoded? (4, Insightful)

Triv (181010) | about a year and a half ago | (#41855913)

If a message is "encoded" it doesn't imply one way or another whether it had been decoded at some point. Just because the message is "encoded" doesn't mean it hasn't been decoded; decoding a message doesn't change the state of the original message as it's still encoded.

Undecoded is more precise.

Re:Undecoded? (4, Informative)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856097)

No, "undeciphered" is more precise. Because that covers the fact that it might not be encoded but the meaning if the message has not yet been interpreted.

Re:Undecoded? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856581)

Except if you read the TFS you'd see "even more interesting, this is the first recorded instance of a code being used rather than plain text"

So try again with your more "precise"... Remember kids, pedantry just makes you look like annoying twerp while the rest of society usually "gets it" without your unnecessary input... especially when you aren't right.

Re:Undecoded? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856711)

There's nothing wrong with pedantry. This attempt failed because one of his premises was wrong---it's quite clear that the text is in fact encoded.

In order to be successfully pedantic you have to be more rigorous about assembling your facts. That's why trying to be pedantic is worthwhile, because it forces you to better analyze the available material, unless you don't mind looking like an ass.

Re:Undecoded? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856903)

He was wrong on two counts.

First by claiming UNDECODED wasn't more precise than encoded the GP referred to. This isn't true even if his implication that "undeciphered" is "more acceptable" than "undecoded" .. (you see I got what he meant even if he was wrong with what he said)
and
Second his supporting reason why it was "more acceptable" was completely off base.

Pedantic fail all around and modded informative to boot. You see how extraneous this conversation is? Exactly my point about pedantry.

Re:Undecoded? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856919)

The purpose of language is to convey meaning.

Leaving it to the unwashed, nigh-illiterate masses to "just get it" inevitably leads to mis-interpretation and misunderstanding.

The rise of linguistic abominations like ebonics and urban slang is a direct outcome of lazy language use arising directly from others' forbearance of "pedantry".

With the pervasiveness of your stated position, is it any wonder that the majority of posters on here (and elsewhere) can't determine the correct "their, there or they're" to use most of the time? or need to "aks" you questions?

Language is a tool; SO USE IT LIKE ONE! ...and like a craftsman, do so with practiced skill and not sloppily like some amateur...

-AC

decoder ring says (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855537)

"Be sure to drink your Ovaltine."

Translation (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855545)

It says, "All Germany's base are belong to us"

Got it too: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855549)

Eat me with a peeper sauce and a good wine.

Undecoded (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855551)

A un-non-perfectly non-anti-de-cromulant word.

Undecoded (2, Insightful)

rwise2112 (648849) | about a year and a half ago | (#41855563)

WW2 Carrier Pigeon and Undecoded Message Found In Chimney

I guess that's code for coded.

Re:Undecoded (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856099)

No, it's natural language's wonderfully concise way of expressing "coded, but subject to ongoing attempts at decoding it" so that everybody who occasionally talks to people instead of machines immediately understands it.

Re:Undecoded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856135)

Yeah double negative so what.. in this case it's probably apropos...
I don't know, perhaps it's indicating to you that it's coded and they haven't decoded it yet.. vs if they had just said "coded" which is ambiguous because you don't get any indication if that means they know how to decode it.

No, no, you misread it means undie-coded. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856431)

The message was hidden within the lace of avian lingerie.

'Undecoded message' (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855571)

Wouldn't an 'undecoded message' be a 'coded message'?

Re:'Undecoded message' (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856045)

Well, yes, but a "coded message" might not be an "undecoded message". That is, a "coded message" might have been decoded at some point, whereas an "undecoded message" has never been decoded.

Serialz.pigeon.com (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855601)

Obviously they were just sending serial numbers to aid in pirating punch card software.

Packet loss (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855607)

They had huge latency and packet loss back then, didn't they?

Be Sure to Drink Your Ovaltine (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855613)

What a crock!

recovering an RFC 1149 "lost packet"??? (3)

RobertLTux (260313) | about a year and a half ago | (#41855625)

i wonder how the bird got in the chimney in the first place

Re:recovering an RFC 1149 "lost packet"??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855645)

That should be painfully obvious. It wasn't carrying a coconut.

Re:recovering an RFC 1149 "lost packet"??? (1)

xevioso (598654) | about a year and a half ago | (#41855647)

This is a very good question.

Re:recovering an RFC 1149 "lost packet"??? (5, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#41855843)

England, as you may be aware, is often cold. A bird could easily decide to perch next to a chimney to keep warm. It then passes out from carbon monoxide inhalation, and topples into the chimney, where it becomes lodged.

Re:recovering an RFC 1149 "lost packet"??? (1)

wooferhound (546132) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856859)

England, as you may be aware, is often cold. A bird could easily decide to perch next to a chimney to keep warm. It then passes out from carbon monoxide inhalation, and topples into the chimney, where it becomes lodged.

But then the fireplace was never used again . . . which is odd . . .

Re:recovering an RFC 1149 "lost packet"??? (4, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#41855801)

i wonder how the bird got in the chimney in the first place

It walked there.

Re:recovering an RFC 1149 "lost packet"??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855839)

I would say the pigeon landed on the chimney for the warmth. It was overcome by the smoke from a fire below and fell into the chimney.

A workman found dead ducks in my fireplace. I guess it is pretty common for an uncapped chimney. (I put caps on my chimneys... also keeps bats out of the fireplace.)

Clearly it was an open access point (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856031)

Put yourself in the carriers position. You are under a DDOS attack and you still want to deliver the packet. So you attempt to route around the damage.

How it got there (3, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856793)

It entered the chimney because it was pining for the fjords.

It's not pinin,' it's passed on! This pigeon is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late pigeon! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed him to the perch he would be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolical processes are of interest only to historians! It's hopped the twig! It's shuffled off this mortal coil! It's run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! This.... is an EX-PIGEON!

Encoding (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855653)

It was uuencoded.

Decoded! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855657)

"Don't forget to drink your Ovaltine"

Don't know why, but It's some sort of German (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855711)

"Wenn ist das Nunstuck git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!"

Re:Don't know why, but It's some sort of German (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856455)

No wonder pigeon is dead. Or is it? Maybe it's just pining for the fjords.

decoded message (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855741)

Eat your ovaltine!

-db

What are the lapel pins? (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year and a half ago | (#41855779)

Looks like a red flower, maybe a poppy. Is it some local or national thing? Can any slashdotter not working on decoding enlighten, please?

Re:What are the lapel pins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855937)

Poppies are worn to mark Rememberance Day (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembrance_Day)

Re:What are the lapel pins? (5, Interesting)

SonnyDog09 (1500475) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856245)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-- John McCrae

Re:What are the lapel pins? (0)

jdavidb (449077) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856827)

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

No thanks. I have no quarrel. My foes are the people in the institution that pressed my ancestors into service for war and stole their income to support war.

The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

Sorry about that, but I do not consent. Throwing bad money after good is never a good idea, and when it's used as encouragement to warfare, the idea is downright reprehensible.

When decoded it reads (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41855815)

Gotcha!, He He!

Mutley

Encoded string (4, Informative)

thrill12 (711899) | about a year and a half ago | (#41855921)

At least what I could read of it thus far from the image, some letters in parenthesis if I was unsure, and probably not everything correct: (please reply with your corrections)
A(C)AKN HVPKD (F)NFJU YIDD(C/L)
RQX(Q)R DJHFP (E/F)OVFN MIAPX
PABUZ WYYNP C(M)PNW HJR(C)H
NLXKE MEMEK ON(O)(I/L)B AREE(G)?
UAOTA RBQRH DJOFM TPZEH
LKX(E/P)H R(E/F)(E/F)HT JRZCQ FNKTQ
KLDTS (E/F)QIRU AOAKN (2)7 1525/6

NURP 40 TW 194
NURP 37 DK (7/1)6

Re:Encoded string (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856311)

The letter frequencies appear much close to what you'd expect if they are totally random. This might mean it's a one-time pad in which case it can't be decoded at all.

'A': 9, 'N': 9, 'R': 9,
  'H': 8, 'K': 8,
'D': 7, 'O': 7, 'P': 7,
'E': 6, 'F': 6, 'Q': 6,
'G': 5, 'J': 5, 'M': 5, 'T': 5,
'I': 4, 'U': 4, 'X': 4, 'Z': 4,
'C': 3, 'B': 3, 'L': 3, 'Y': 3,
'W': 2, 'V': 2,
'S': 1

Re:Encoded string (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856469)

Unless the GCHQ or the Germans (was the pigeon inbound or outbound?) still have the original decoding pad.

Re:Encoded string (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856323)

There are two possibilities. First this is a substitution cipher with the letters regrouped into 5 letter groups. This might be breakable with statistical cryptanalysis. However, it's also possible a codebook was used, which would map each 5 letter group to a word or phase (although it's a little wordy for that). In which case a single message won't provide sufficient context to decode the message without the codebook.

Re:Encoded string (2)

GreyFish (156639) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856609)

I get:

AOAKN HVPKD FNFJU YIDDC
RQXSR DJHFP EOVFN MIAPX
PABUZ WTYNP CMPNW HJR?H
NLXKE M?M?K ONOIB A???Q
UAOTA RBQRH DJOFM TPZLH
LKXEH REEHT JRZCQ FNKTQ
KLDTS EQIRU AOAKN

The F's are quite square, but the E's are rouned.

note that it starts and ends with AOAKN to tell whoever is decoding it how to generate the key.

SOE used "Poem codes":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poem_code [wikipedia.org]

Blackadder (2)

ledow (319597) | about a year and a half ago | (#41855999)

George: "It's a bit charred. Something something at once..PS, due to communication crisis, the shooting of carrier pigeons is now a court-martial offence. I don't see what's so funny about that, sir."

Swallow Pigeon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856057)

"If only we had a few good African swallows, we could have sent a coconut too big to fall into chimneys"

ciphertext? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856063)

Someone ought to post the cipher text.

Really? (5, Funny)

saveferrousoxide (2566033) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856067)

I've boiled down the 32 comments (so far) to 2:
"Drink more ovaltine! (ha ha)" and the like
Undecoded = unnecessary double negative.

Glad to save you some time, Dear Reader.

Re:Really? (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856569)

And no comments on the ridiculousness of "this is the first recorded instance of a code being used rather than plain text."

The use of coded messages goes back thousands of years. I doubt the first recorded instance would be found on a pigeon from WWII.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856719)

This is why slashdot comments jumped the shark a long time. Too much stupidity where there used to be intelligence.

It says (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856117)

"Help, I'm stuck in a chimney. I'm attaching this message to the leg of a carrier pigeon. Oh crap, I am a carrier pigeon, and this is my leg."

Original code (5, Informative)

smitsco (677534) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856159)

AOAKN HVPKD FNFJU YIDDC
RQXSR DJHFP GoVFN MIAPX
PABUZ WYYNP CMPNW HJRZH
NLXKG MENEK ONOIB AREEQ
UAOTA RBQRH DJoFM TPZEH
LKXGH RGGHT JRZCQ FNKTQ
KLDTS GQIRU AOAKN 27 1525/6

NURP 40 TW 194
NURP 37 DK 76

lib 1025

Re:Original code (3, Funny)

F-3582 (996772) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856571)

Didn't expect the British to already use Windows back then. Why they shared those serialz via carrier pigeon is beyond me, though...

Britain's "Animals In War Memorial" (4, Interesting)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856213)

http://www.animalsinwar.org.uk/ [animalsinwar.org.uk]

"This monument is dedicated to all the animals
that served and died alongside British and allied forces
in wars and campaigns throughout time"

The second, smaller inscription simply reads:
"They had no choice"

.

Re:Britain's "Animals In War Memorial" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856703)

The same is true for many of the soldiers.

Well seeing it was a British bird.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41856273)

In that it was a British pigeon, there could only be on message: Bloody Hell - we are surrounded on all sides and are running short of supplies, We need emergency drop - location to follow.... HURRY!!! we are almost out of tea!

Huh (2, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856353)

Unbelievable. They were still using carrier pigeons in WW II? Despite the invention of radio?

My first thought was that this they got the war wrong or that it was some hobbyist playing at secret messages. But no, they did use pigeons in WW II. The Army Pigeon Service [wikipedia.org] was only disbanded in 1957!

It's weird how military people refuse to give up their favorite toys. As early as the Civil War, the smarter generals were pointing out the stupidity of charging cavalry against modern rifled weapons. And yet the last cavelry charge occurred 80 years later!

Re:Huh (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856627)

As early as the Civil War, the smarter generals were pointing out the stupidity of charging cavalry against modern rifled weapons. And yet the last cavelry charge occurred 80 years later!

Are you suggesting that the pigeon was downed by the German anti-pigeon artillery?

Re:Huh (1)

EGSonikku (519478) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856633)

I assume that although they did have radio that they may have been worried about the Germans listening in? Also, Carrier Pigeons likely had a longer range than radio.

Re:Huh (1)

fm6 (162816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856913)

The security issues with radio also apply to RFC1149 media. Hence the encryption.

A WW II field radio can reach 75 to 800 miles, depending on conditions. A pigeon can fly 500 miles in a day, but weigh that against vulnerability to snipers, wires, and raptors.

Re:Huh (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856721)

Did they practice electronic warfare in WWII? An enemy that is very effective at knocking out radio communications may not be as effective at killing pigeons.

Activation code (1)

bjb_admin (1204494) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856433)

Actually this is the second part of a message.

First Message reads:
Sorry to hear of the russian porn infecting your computer old chap.

Will send activation code once we can get through to India so you can reinstall.

hyperspace express way notice (5, Funny)

dsvick (987919) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856493)

Actually, it says:

Notice of intent to build a hyperspace express route is hereby given to the peoples of earth.
Plans and demolition orders may be viewed at your local planning office in Alpha Centauri.
Thank you,
Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council

there's a PS, there, too (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856497)

did you guys catch it?

decoded it says:

"PS: if you didn't get this message, let us know and we'll send it again"

(you know, I bet the sender had one of those fake paint-on moustaches.)

Don't decode it! (3, Funny)

slapout (93640) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856595)

Don't decode it! It's a copy of the funniest joke in the world! It's in coded form so that it won't hurt anyone!

RFC 1149 : TCP over Carrier Pigeon (3, Funny)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856597)

Well, the reason it's so hard to decode is obviously because it doesn't follow standards that did not yet exist: RFC 1149 [faqs.org]:- Standard for the transmission of IP datagrams on avia

.

If people only used standards, then even multi-decades old avian-datagrams could route around the blockage of chimneys and continue onward! ;>)

.

The RFC even discusses encryption and tactical issues: ``Security Considerations Security is not generally a problem in normal operation, but special measures must be taken (such as data encryption) when avian carriers are used in a tactical environment.'' This BBN place sounds like a fun place to work if they've got this much time on their hands!

AOAKN .HVPKD FNFJU YIDDC (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856761)

Transcription based on
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/11/01/article-2226203-15CC0406000005DC-295_306x423.jpg [dailymail.co.uk]
and
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/11/01/article-2226203-15CC0406000005DC-763_634x286.jpg [dailymail.co.uk]

Transcription assumes all capital letters and no numbers in the encoded message.
--cut here--
[TOP LINE NOT SHOWN IN IMAGE]
TO X02
FROM [NOT FILLED OUT]
Originator's No. [NOT FILLED OUT]
Date. [NOT FILLED OUT
In reply to No. [NOT FILLED OUT]

AOAKN .HVPKD FNFJU YIDDC
RQXSR DJHFP GOVFN MAIPX .
PABUZ WYYNP CMPNW HJRZH .
NLXKG MEMKK ONOIB AKEEQ
UAOTA . RBQRH DJOFM TPZEH
LKXEH REEHT JRZCQ FNKTQ .
KLDTS PQIRU[FQIRU?] AOAKN 27 1525/6.

NURP 40 TW 194
NURP 37 OK 76

[cursive] lib. [normal print] 1625

Time of origin. 1522
Date and time of return at loft [not filled out]
Number of copies sent. 2

Sender's Signature [line illegible/best guess] W St[?]t Sjt.
--cut here--

Transcriber's note:
Dots/periods in the body of the message are probably not part of the encrypted message.
The dot in the first line is somewhat below the letter H in the second grouping.

Tnetennba is no longer the longest Countdown word (1)

patmandu (247443) | about a year and a half ago | (#41856819)

Obviously it already is a word, and now unseats Tnetennba as Moss' longest countdown word.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...