Codebreakers sought to crack Occupation message

Codebreakers are being sought to decipher a remnant of the Occupation.

John and Val Campbell found a cache of wartime items under their floorboards of his home at Les Poidevins, St Andrew’s, some 30 years ago.

Among the collection were cigarette packets and rolling papers, matches, a shampoo sachet, a fuse wire pack, brothel passes for Sunnydene Hotel and the now-demolished Hotel Dunchoille, some throat pastilles and an envelope addressed to Ernst Buchtela.

The coded message. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29415775)

‘When in the middle of a renovation project we took the floorboards up in one of our top rooms and found this,’ said Mr Campbell, a retired structural engineer.

‘We put it in a box to get on with the project. Then during lockdown, when we wondered what to do with ourselves, I remembered the sheet of coding and thought before I die I should find out what it’s all about.’

It is believed German soldiers were billeted in the house to be close to extensive tunnelling.

John Campbell and the German coded message. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29415818)

Mice have nibbled parts of the cache, but a good portion of the code is readable.

‘Whoever could decipher it must be rather specialist. It may be someone not from Guernsey, or someone from Bletchley Park. But how you reach out to those people or if this message would even be worthy of the effort I don’t know, but I suppose that is the beauty and mystery of code.’

After living in their house since 1970, the Campbells would love to find out more about its history, and can provide clearer scanned copies or the originals to anybody interested.

  • If you have found similar codified messages, are interested in cracking the code, or could provide further information on Ernst Buchtela, contact ehubert@guernseypress.com.

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