The remains of a World War II homing pigeon carrying a coded message from the D-Day landings has been found in a chimney in Bletchingley, Surrey.
The message is so potentially sensitive that it was handed over to codebreakers at GCHQ, who are now frantically trying to decipher it.
Historians reckon the bird, found by David Martin in his chimney, was almost certainly sent from Nazi-occupied France during the D-Day invasions, when homing pigeons were sent to get around the Churchill-ordered radio blackout.
World War II experts suspect that this particular message was on its way to Bletchley Park 80 miles away, which had a classified pigeon loft.
"We have more than 30 messages from WWII carrier pigeons in our exhibition, but not one is in code," Colin Hill, curator of Bletchley's 'Pigeons at War' exhibition, said.
"The message Mr Martin found must be highly top secret. The aluminium ring found on the bird’s leg tells us it was born in 1940 and we know it’s an Allied Forces pigeon because of the red capsule it was carrying – but that’s all we know.
“We suspect it was flying back to Monty’s HQ or Bletchley Park from Nazi-occupied Normandy during the invasion. I can only presume it became exhausted and attempted to rest on an open chimney – where it valiantly perished.”
Coincidentally, Secret Agent Commander Wilfred "Biffy" Dunderdale, the real-life inspiration for his friend Ian Fleming's James Bond, lived near Martin after the war. Martin said he had the chance to show the bird and the message to Dunderdale before he passed away.
"When I showed him the bird and code the blood drained from his face and he advised us to back off. He said nothing would ever be published," Martin claimed.
Pigeon fanciers have said they want the deceased military bird to be posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal, the highest possible decoration for valour given to animals. ®