A British algae expert who had an unlikely role in defeating the Germans during the Second World War is once again in the spotlight, thanks to a viral Twitter thread.

The story of Geoffrey Tandy, a biologist who was mistaken for a codebreaker and sent to work with the team of famed cryptographers at Bletchley Park, has become a Twitter “moment.”

Florence Schechter, who describes herself as a “science communicator and comedian,” re-told Tandy’s story in the most 2018 way possible:  in a dozen tweets accompanied by GIFs.

Schechter’s history lesson has been re-tweeted and “liked” thousands of times.  When another Twitter user replied that he doesn’t even care whether the story is true, Schechter provided links to historical references. 

According to a 2014 article published by the U.K.’s Natural History Museum, Geoffrey Tandy was a cryptogamist – “an expert in non-flowering, spore-reproducing plants like seaweeds, mosses and ferns” – who worked at the Museum for over a decade, starting in 1926.

But during the Second World War, the Ministry of Defence confused his title with a cryptogramist, or a codebreaker.  So Tandy, who had enlisted as a volunteer with the Royal Navy Reserves, was sent to Bletchley Park and asked to help crack the code of the German Naval Enigma machine.

And that’s how Tandy finally got to use his biology expertise in a major British intelligence operation. Based on his experience working with wet plant specimens, he knew how to restore the messages written on water-damaged paper.