Sunday, 9 November 2008

Pigeons in War

Remembrance Sunday 2008.

The National Pigeon Service was formed at the outbreak of World War Two when 7000 of Britain's pigeon fanciers gave their pigeons to the war effort to act as message carriers.

Pigeons carried their messages either in special message containers on their legs or small pouches looped over their backs. Pigeons were dropped by parachute in containers to Resistance workers in France, Belgium and Holland. This was dangerous as if caught with a British pigeon it meant facing German firing squad. The photo of the poster above was taken at the German Occupation Museum in Guernsey.
One famous pigeon was called White Vision. She/he received a Dickin Medal (popularly referred to as the 'Animal VC' and exclusive to animals and birds - see for more stories) for saving the lives of eleven airmen in 1943. White Vision was released from a flying boat ditched off Scotland and flew sixty miles in strong winds and exceptionally difficult conditions to bring a rescue party.
More details can be found on Pigeons in War at Read about some of the brave pigeons - it is quite humbling!
The Animals in War memorial is in Park Lane, Mayfair.
(Information for this blog taken from Pigeons in War leaflet from the Royal Pigeon Racing Association leaflet.


Cait O'Connor said...

Yes we should remember the pigeons in war well done Faith.

Anonymous said...

This is a fascinating and very interesting post, Faith. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

CJ xx

lampworkbeader said...

Totally fascinating.

Ellie said...

Wow - I had no idea - thanks Faith, so interesting.

Withy Brook said...

We tend to forget about the pigeons. Horses in WW1 yes, pigeons no. So thankyou for remembering them.

DJ Kirkby said...

I am so moved. This was the most unique rememberance day post. Beautiful and special.

Fennie said...

Faith, this is absolutely fascinating. I never knew that someone could be shot for releasing a pigeon. That seems excessively cruel - but then that's war I suppose. You are so lucky to have your doves.

(I can't resist the wicked thought that if you fed them shrimps they might turn pink like flamingoes and match your bathroom! But that wouldn't be kind to your neighbours and probably doves don't eat shrimps anyway).

Faith said...

Thanks for your comments everyone.

You almost tempt me to try it Fennie!