The Way We Were - thanks to pigeon power

Bryan Howling sent us this charming photograph of a pair of pigeons nestling in the blossom
Bryan Howling sent us this charming photograph of a pair of pigeons nestling in the blossom

Simples. Just compare the technologies dot com. Well that’s what the ever resourceful Russians have done. For the successor to the KGB has now purchased typewriters on which to produce their sensitive documents. Unassailable by the spies of the cyber world. As for the Brits?

Well, true to form, in the wake of numerous data thefts and loss of defence secrets the last UK manufacturer of typewriters has just ceased production. Oh well, there’s always pigeons. During the First War War pigeon power was an important means of conveying secret messages, and the special constables were tasked to go from house to house to inform residents that permits were needed to carry homing pigeons on the highway. However, for having contravened this two local men would be summoned and fined. As one of the pair, a Bletchley man had a permit to keep 12 birds at Bow Brickhill. These he agreed to sell to the other man, and both set off together to fetch them. The seller then carried the birds back on his cycle. However, it was the following day that the necessary permit was applied for, and due to this breach the seller was fined 5s and the buyer 2s 6d. This was the first case of its kind in North Bucks but at least they got the pigeons back! During the First World War, in the ‘Room 40’ operation the British had great success in the interception of enemy wireless traffic and codebreaking, and several of the key personnel would employ their skills during WW2 at Bletchley Park. But apart from the more well known aspects Bletchley Park also had a pigeon loft. It was perhaps to here that the pigeon whose remains were recently discovered in the chimney of a house in Surrey was making. In a canister attached to a leg was found a coded message, which, as reported in the national press, caused quite a flutter among modern day codebreakers. After the war one of the best known pigeon breeders in the world came to live at Old Stratford, having hired a lorry to bring his 150 blue blooded birds from Camberwell. He was Tommy Buck, who during the war had supplied the Government with pigeons to carry top secret messages. In fact one bird carried a message from the Maquis in occupied France, and would be given a citation. And so, my dear Sergei, in the words of the old proverb from our beloved Motherland, do not give the bird to the old ways, for they may one day be good insurance for the future. Double simples. Click.