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Video/gallery: Feathered friends deliver pupils’ secret wartime messages at Sir Robert Hitcham’s Primary School in Framlingham

10:44 16 June 2014

Robert Hitcham

Robert Hitcham's Primary School in Framlignham invited a pigeon handler to talk about the role of the birds in the First World War. L-R Beth,Bianca and Matthew with Donna Beard and the pigeon that they released.

Pupils’ secret messages were sent soaring across the country by carrier pigeons yesterday as part of a fascinating study into First World War communications.


Sir Robert Hitcham’s Primary School in Framlingham welcomed pigeon handler Donna Beard for a session on cryptography in which coded communications were sent by a flock of feathered messengers to be deciphered at a school 140 miles away.

The session formed part of the pupils’ studies marking the Great War’s centenary and replicated genuine communications techniques employed by soldiers on the front line.

Year Five teacher Emma Montague said the visit created a real life context for the pupils’ learning and a sense of wonder as the birds took flight.

“The children were really taken back - it was quite amazing to see the birds take off,” she said,

The pupils’ messages, encrypted using the same Caesar cipher as soldiers used during the war, will be decoded by students at school in Staffordshire and emailed back for verification.

Ms Beard’s learning experiences, entitled Flying Back to Nature, also offered the pupils a chance to handle the birds.



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