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Pigeons in War

From Pigeons in World War II edited by W H Osman (London 1950) two stories of amazing feats by army pigeons from this thorough record of WWII pigeon services. A few pigeons received the highest award - the Dickin Medal. No names, no pack drill..

1.Army pigeon 8790 DD 43 Q Bred by Australian Pigeon Section whilst attached to the United States 6th Army

During the fight for Manus Island (1945) the United States Marines sent a reconnaissance patrol to the strategic village of Dravito. The patrol was strongly attacked by Japs whilst returning with the information that a strong counter attack was in preparation The patrol's radio was rendered inoperative during the action so two pigeons were released warning the Headquarters of the impending attack. These pigeons were shot down immediately as the Japanese intensified their efforts to annihilate the patrol. This left one pigeon (8790 DD 43 Q)…the sole remaining means of contact  they were released leaving Army pigeon 8790 DD 43 Q as the sole remaining means of contact with Headquarters. It was released during a lull in the fighting and despite heavy fire directed at it reached Headquarters thirty miles in difficult country in 46 minutes. As a result Dravito was heavily bombed and the patrol extricated from its perilous position.

2.Army pigeon 3863 DD 44

Bred by Australian Pigeon Service. Trained by 1st by Australian Pigeon Section (operating with the first Australian Water Transport Group.)

In July 1945 during the operations on Bougainville an Infantry Company of the 3rd Australian Division was pinned down and surrounded by a superior enemy forces. The Japanese had cut off or destroyed all means of communication to Battalion Headquarters except two pigeons carried by the Company. Army pigeon 3863 DD 44 was despatched with an urgent call for reinforcements and artillery support in order that the position could be relieved by nightfall. Despite heavy tropical rain and the fact that this bird was fired on by 60-70 Japanese immediately on release (which wounded the pigeon) Army pigeon 3863 DD 44 flew the 22 miles in 3 hours arriving at the loft in a state of complete exhaustion. As a result of this gallant effort artillery support was given and the Company with its wounded was withdrawn safely before dark.

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