WWII carrier pigeon's remains found in chimney

Last updated 09:09 05/11/2012
Reuters

British man finds carrier pigeon skeleton in his fireplace with a canister attached to the leg containing an encrypted WW2 message. Sarah Sheffer reports.

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A British man has found the remains of World War II carrier pigeon in his fireplace complete with a canister attached to a leg containing an encrypted WW2 message.

David Martin, 74, found the bird's remains while renovating a unused Victorian fireplace at his Surrey home not far from the wartime headquarters of General Bernard Montgomery.

"It could have been a secret message for him. I hope it is something interesting it will be amazing if we discover an unknown detail from such an important part of British history," Martin told Britain's Daily Mail.

Martin said he and his wife Anne "were stunned it was like Christmas had come early. The chimney was full of hundreds of twigs and rubbish and then I just started finding various bits of a dead pigeon."

At first they thought it might be a racing pigeon "until we spotted the red capsule and our eyes just lit up."

Carrier pigeons have been used since ancient times to relay messages from behind enemy lines and the capsule Martin found was the kind British troops used during World War II.

The message, written by a Sergeant W Stott, contains 27 codes that each contain a combination of five numbers and letters. The message was destined for "X02," which is believed to be the classified designation for Britain's Bomber Command.

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