A WARTIME mystery is to be unravelled after a carrier pigeon’s paper message was miraculously uncovered on Worthing beach yesterday (Thursday, November 5).
It is uncertain which World War the message was lost or who it was intended for, but avid metal detectorist Geoff Smith said he has never seen anything like it.
The Sompting resident was on Worthing beach last Thursday morning and discovered a small brass cylinder with a wax seal on the end and a paper message rolled up inside.
“I was on the beach in the morning when the tide was out. I didn’t have a clue what it was. At first I thought it was from a dog collar.
“I came home in the evening and Autumn Watch was on the TV and they were showing pictures of the same thing I just found.”
The 46-year-old has been using a metal detector for two years as a hobby and scans the beach once a week to see what he can find beneath the surface.
Mr Smith said he usually only finds bottle tops and other scraps, but anything of interest is taken to a museum.
“It’s going to the Friends of Shoreham Fort. The message can’t be seen due to water damage so someone there is going to do some special photography to find out” he said.
A regular YouTuber, Mr Smith posted a video on his channel, Beeping Mad, filming the moment he discovered the rare find.
In the video, Mr Smith pries out the letter using a flat screwdriver.
Chairman and founder of Friends of Shoreham Fort Gary Baines who will be putting the item on display said that the pigeon may have travelled from France.
He said: “A message would have had been put on a piece of paper and given a wax seal, and then that pigeon was let go and it would bring its message home.
“It could have been that the pigeon died of exhaustion flying all the way home, or it was dropped on the beach by mistake.”
The team at Shoreham Fort will now attempt to decipher the message that has faded over time.
Mr Baines said: “We might be able to take black and white photos and change the contrast to reveal the letters.
“We’ll do out best.”
Shoreham Fort, off Forthaven, is run solely by volunteers.
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