• Families

Are you ready to put your super spy skills to the test? CBBC Secret Agent Ben Shires is setting your top-secret Family Mission from a hidden location… 

Mission Briefing

See Secret Agent Shires relay your Family Mission brief and then scroll down to find everything you need to complete it below, including his top-secret code for you to crack. Good luck agents!  

Hello and welcome to this very special half term edition of Family Mission. I'm Ben Shires and the folks over at Imperial War Museums have everything you need to make your school holidays great. 

Secret agents, Welcome! Good of you to make it. Now, the special agents at IWM have asked me to relay this very special message to you all. New recruits must undertake an in-depth training mission for this week's IWM Family Mission. Special Operations Executive or SOE Agents are super specialists in espionage sabotage and camouflage. Agents are always on the lookout for new and inventive ways of disguising top-secret messages whilst undercover. From escape maps disguised as silk scarves, to match boxes that allow you to keep your cover whilst undercover and even a weapon disguised as an unassuming but deadly... pencil!  

Your mission this week is to decipher the secret message that I've left for you on the IWM website. Once you've cracked the code, you need to dispatch this message as inconspicuously as possible by hiding it around your home for the other special agents in your family to find. Remember to think carefully about this because secret messages can be intercepted at any time. And I hate to be the one to have to tell you, but someone in your family could be acting as a double agent out to spoil your mission by stealing your message. Trust no one. No one!  

Agents can use all manner of materials for their top-secret messages from a tiny piece of rolled up paper wrapped around and hidden inside a hairpin to a piece of toilet roll. What? It's easy to dispose of. Anyway, the agents over at IWM have put all the instructions and everything else you could possibly need over on the IWM website. Good luck agents! 

Family Mission Briefing Instructions  

Can you crack the top-secret code in Agent Shires’ message?  




Top-secret clue!  

Struggling to solve the code? Why not try looking at things in reverse… 

Have you solved it? 

Excellent work agents! Now that you’ve cracked the code it’s time to dispatch the message. You need to do this in the most inconspicuous way possible by hiding it in your home for the other special agents in your family to find. Once they’ve cracked the code you can send top-secret messages to each other! 

Think carefully about how you do this, as top-secret messages can be intercepted at any time. Perhaps one of the other special agents in your family is secretly a DOUBLE agent trying to find your message and foil your mission!  

Agents can use all manner of materials for their top-secret messages from a tiny rolled up piece of paper wrapped around and hidden in a hairpin to even using toilet paper, the more unassuming the better!  

Don’t forget to tell us how you get on or even better show us your secret messages on IWM’s Facebook and Twitter (we promise we won’t reveal the top-secret message to anyone!) Good luck agents!  

Need some inspiration on how to hide your secret message? Take a look at how fellow agents from the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in the Second World War hid their messages below. 


Wireless transmitter suitcase
© IWM COM 729 Wireless transmitter suitcase

Looks like a plain old suitcase right? Wrong!

Hidden inside this unassuming suitcase a stereo transmitter and receiver radio set used by British SOE and intelligence agents during the Second World War.

These sets were extremely popular with SOE operatives because of its lightweight, lack of bulk and reliability. This particular set was used by French secret agent Roger Flouriot, codename ‘Maltais’. 

See object record >

Silk escape Map

Silk Escape Map
© IWM EPH 10089 Silk Escape Map

Wow that is one stylish scarf… and a handy escape map too!

Silk maps were often used by SOE agents as they could be easily folded and easy to carry.

This silk map belonged to SOE agent Michael Lis who was one of the SOE’s most successful agents!  

See object record >


Compass pencil
© IWM EPH 1101 Compass Pencil

Look sharp now! This ordinary looking pencil has a serious point to it.

Hidden inside this unassuming pencil is actually a compass!

Over two million compasses were distributed as navigation aids for undercover evaders and escapers during the Second World War.  

See object record >

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