At Pest Defense Solutions, we usually only like to write about pigeons in respect to eradicating them or their harmful effects. However, last month we learned about a carrier pigeon story of historical significance that was too interesting not to share. A British military carrier pigeon, named 40TW194, was found years after its secret flight over France and its message was sent to Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) listening post and decoding department. Unfortunately, GCHQ has tried – and failed – to interpret the pigeon’s message, but says, “It is a tribute to the skills of the wartime code-makers that, despite working under severe pressure, they devised a code that was undecipherable both then and now.”
The GCHQ code breakers said the message has consistent with those used during World War II, but they are missing its destination, given only as X02 in the message. The message appears to be signed by “Sjt W Stot” an old spelling of the rank of Serjeant, but they have been unable to learn anything about this individual. In addition, two identity numbers were listed in the message for the carrier pigeon, so code breakers are uncertain which identity numbers belong to this bird.
Colin Hill, the curator of the pigeon exhibit at the code museum which has been seeking information about the message, says he will continue to uncover the pigeon’s message. He has contacted a French woman who was part of the Resistance movement during the war to help him find the keys to the code.
The British government enlisted 250,000 carrier pigeons from owners through the country for the National Pigeon Service during World War II. Many were killed during transport to war zones, by German marksmen over the French coast or by falcons when they returned to the British homeland. Of the over 40 animals which received the Dickin Medal for bravery in battle, over 30 were awarded to pigeons, according to Mr. Hill.
Live pigeons can be a both damaging and unhealthy, and it is imperative to address pigeon issues on your property. Pigeons often nest on roofs where they damage the materials to the point of a roof leak. Pigeons carry diseases such as cryptococcosis, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. Their droppings may harbor the growth of fungus which causes histoplasmosis. Other pests may live on these birds, including fleas, lice, mites, or ticks. If you need assistance with pigeon control, Pest Defense Solutions can help you. To learn more about Pest Defense Services, please click here. To request service or to ask a question, please fill out a contact request form.
Tags: GCHQ, Pest Control, Pigeons, World War II