ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

World Wars: Pigeons in Battle Animal VC Winners.

Updated on February 20, 2016
Winkie. Dicken Medal (Animal VC) awarded for war time service.
Winkie. Dicken Medal (Animal VC) awarded for war time service. | Source

The Dicken Medal The Animals Victoria Cross.

In 1943 the British charity, 'People's Dispensary for Sick Animals' instigated a Medal to be awarded to animals who's actions deserved recognition. At the time the charity was led by Maria Dicken it was through her efforts that the Medal has been accepted as the animals Victoria Cross, which is the highest British award for action under fire.

It is estimated that 200,000 or more pigeons were used by the allies over the two world wars. The US army had a training centre at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. This was known as the Army Pigeon Breeding and Training Centre. It was established 1917 and was disbanded in 1957. It was known that Pigeons could average 60mph in flight and could fly hundreds of miles at a time. They are credited to have saved many thousands of lives over the two world wars.

During World War One the British operated the Carrier Pigeon Service. The birds were used for carrying messages and espionage duties. Pigeons were used on all fronts, with particular success at the Battle of the Somme and the battle at Verdun. It is estimated that 90/95% of all messages were delivered.

Cher Ami.

During world war one the US Army Signals Corp operated approximately 600 pigeons. One in particular was to become famous, we must not forget here that all these birds flew hazardous duties when required, but Cher Ami did something outstanding. Having already undertaken 12 message deliveries. He was given a message by Major Whittlesey who was commanding the''Lost Battalion'' of the 77th Infantry Division. It was October 1918 when 194 American soldiers were cut off and trapped by German forces. There were no working radio's amongst them.There only hope was to release a pigeon. Their message and co-ordinates were placed into the usual small capsule and attached to the leg of Cher Ami. As the major released him to the sky, everyman knew that his life depended upon the Cher Ami, it was now or never.

As if he was aware of the the situation Cher Ami did his very best that day, he flew 25 miles over German Lines to reach the Americans Headquarters. During the flight he was shot through the chest and eye and most of one leg was shot off, but he carried on and delivered his message. The Americans launched an attack on the German positions and after several hours of combat, they broke through to the 194 trapped soldiers. Cher Ami lived on and was awarded the ''Croix de Guerre'' with Palm by the French for his heroic efforts between the forts of Verdun. After his wounds healed ''Cher Ami'' was taken to America, where he died in 1919.

Winkie.

It was a common practice during World War II for R.A.F. Bombers to carry Pigeons, if they ditched in the sea or crash landed they had a possible means of rescue. In Februaury 1942 a damaged Beaufort Bomber had to ditch in the sea. It had been on a mission over Norway and fired on by German Gunners.

The crew managed to get their Pigeon out of the aircraft with them, they were unable to radio an accurate position to base but were able to release 'Winkie'. Their only hope was that she could make it to her Loft in Broughty Ferry, a small town near to Dundee in Scotland, from there their base would be alerted. She made it, her owner found her exhausted in the loft. She had flown for 120 miles without rest. Officers at the base knew where the plane was approximately.By estimating Winkie's speed at 60 mph. then taking in wind speed and direction they launched a rescue and the men were picked up within 30 minutes.

Pigeons were used by all sides during the two wars. The Australian Army had great success in the Pacific Conflict, and awarded two of their Pigeons with the Dicken Medal. Thousands of birds lived and died unrecorded in battle, but many lives were saved by these generally unsung combatants - The Dicken Medal is made of Bronze and reads: 'For Gallantry We Also Serve

WWII Pigeon Found in Chimney.




© 2012 Graham Lee

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Levertis. Thank you for your visit and extensive comments. Yes, we underestimate so many creatures. The pigeons did and still do a wonderful job. Thank you.

      Graham.

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 

      5 years ago from Southern Clime

      Because of this hub, I have renewed respect for Rio, my grandsons' cockatiel. I was thinking about sending him to a relative who has more patience than I because he is so noisy some nights. Otherwise, he is a sweetie and loves to sing-along and be petted.

      I knew about war birds delivering messages, but I have never heard of them being so dutiful and heroic--being shot through, flying on, and surviving! Awesome! I never heard of Cher Ami or any other specific war bird, except a nameless bird (pigeon) found in the chimney of a building not too many years ago. Feathers, bones, and a capsule with a readable coded message were found. I think I read a hub about this find about two weeks ago.

      The next time I see a flock of pigeons painting the underside of a bridge, I won't get too disgusted.

      Thanks for a beautiful story. I will share.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi cashmere. Yes, it is fantastic what these birds can do. Thank you for your visit and comments.

      Graham.

    • cashmere profile image

      cashmere 

      6 years ago from India

      What interesting stories! imagine how pigeons worked before technology overtook them.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hello girishpuri. Thank you for your visit and most welcome comment.

      I do appreciate your vote up.

      Graham.

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 

      6 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      An addition to my knowledge about the many uses of pigeons, thanks and voted up

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Thank you snowdrops.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi. UH. Yes I knew that, he was taken back to the US. Then as they say, he was mounted and displayed. Recognition at last I suppose.

      Albion.

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 

      6 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      FYI Cheri Ami is on display at the Smithsonian in Washington DC, one leg and all.

    • snowdrops profile image

      snowdrops 

      6 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

      No worries Graham! Have a nice day :)

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hello snowdrops. Thank you for your visit, I'm glad you liked this hub.

      Thank you for the votes and shared!

      Graham.

    • snowdrops profile image

      snowdrops 

      6 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

      Very fascinating Graham. So kind of you to share this with us. votes and shared

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Yes, it's incredible what these birds did during those times and in previous wars. I'm glad you have now decided to feed the Pigeons. Best Wishes.

      Graham.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This story is amazing. I have a renewed respect for pigeons. I am a bird feeder, everyday pigeons pick up the dropped seed from the feeder. I will now place seed on the ground for them. Thank you for sharing this story.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi UH. Thanks for your visit. Cher Ami might well have been shot on being released, as I am sure you know all sides would automatically shoot at pigeons. All sides also employed Peregrine Falcons to down the pigeons, to the Falcons the pigeons were a natural prey.

      Thanks for the vote.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hello GoodLady. Thank you for your visit. Yes heroes all and as I mentioned, so many of them unsung, just like the men who fell in that terrible war. Thank you for the vote.

      Graham.

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi TT. Thanks for your visit. Yes, they have proved their worth in the past.

      Graham.

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 

      6 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      Great hub! I wonder what all those animals make of the battlefield-- it must be hell for them as much as it is for us. I think Cher Ami was shot out of the air in sight of the lost battalion, but he/she managed to flutter up and away. Also, I believe all tanks had pigeon holes for sending messages. Voted up, etc.

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      How very interesting. What blessed heroes. I love your Hub and the memory of Winkie and Cher Ami. Thank you. Voting up.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      6 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      I will no longer look at pigeons as just d@mn birds that cr@p on my truck now. Great story of the bravery of the mighty little war birds. VUM. :)

    • old albion profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Bill. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Similar stories as these apply thousands of times. Like so many unknown and unsung heroes of the human kind. What's it all for..........

      Graham.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Graham, this is a fascinating hub! I guess I was somewhat aware of the use of pigeons during the war but not to this extent. Great hub, filled with facts that I found very interesting.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)