Tag Archives: Archive.org

Coded message from WWII carrier pigeon structured like numbers station communiqué

The message contains the all-too-familiar 5 character groupings we’re used to hearing in numbers station broadcasts

This news story about a recently discovered WWII carrier pigeon message has been floating around the Internet over the past few days.

(Source: CNN)

Not even the British spy agencies that inspired James Bond can solve the mystery of a secret World War II message recently found on the skeleton of a carrier pigeon in a house chimney.

The meaning of the encoded message apparently died about 70 years ago with the wayward pigeon that David Martin found in his smokestack in Bletchingley, Surrey County, England.

Martin recently discovered the bird’s remains with the surprisingly intact message inside a small red canister attached to a leg bone.

[…]Hand-written on a small piece of paper labeled “Pigeon Service,” the note consists of five-letter words. Those words don’t make sense: The jumble begins with “AOAKN” and “HVPKD.” In all, the message consists of 27 five-letter code groups.

Indeed, the only hope the UK intelligence agency, the GCHQ, stands in deciphering the message (click here to see the full message) would be to find the appropriate, specific decipher key. Most likely, this message–like numbers station (a.k.a. spy numbers) messages–was a one-time communiqué, with a one-time decipher key. This type of encryption is incredibly effective as they provide little to no context for deciphering.

But again, that’s a part of the magic and mystery many of us find so fascinating about numbers stations.  The messages are (still) everywhere and broadcast publicly, yet, we have no clue of the meaning.

If you’ve never heard a numbers station, check out this audio of the numbers station, “The English Man” I recorded earlier this year:

Also, you should check out the many numbers station audio files in the Conet Project on Archive.org. Listen to a sample in the embedded player below:

11 GB+ of digital pirate radio recordings

(Source: TextFiles.com via Radio Survivor)

Since the 1990s, a fellow named Sealord has been recording pirate radio broadcasts coming across shortwave bands. Without authorization, license, or any sort of oversight, all manner of folks have been broadcasting illegal but probably not overly immoral shows out into the air. This collection, which is over 11 gigabytes and counting, has hours and hours of radio broadcasts, crackling with the sound of distant voices shouting over static and electromagnetic corruption. With names like XYZ Digital Pirate, Wolverine Radio, Whispery ID, Thinking Man Radio, The Voice of the Last DJ…. you’re talking some strange and mysterious personalities out there.

Not only is this collection worth checking out, but the whole of archive.org is an amazing collection of similar digital archives. I have listened to some of Sealord’s collection in the past but never recognized the extent of the total anthology. What an amazing service to us in the radio community who believe in the importance of preserving the sounds of the shortwaves.

On that note, I humbly ask that if you ever record shortwave audio, please consider uploading the uncompressed file to archive.org so that your recording can be shared and properly archived.  I’ve certainly uploaded many hours of shortwave radio recordings on behalf of SWLing.com (though, nowhere near 11GB and counting!).