I thought this was rather interesting, so I thought I’d share it.
A bit of trivia:
The only cat to win a Dicken Medal (Animals’ Victoria Cross) in World War II served upon the HMS Amethyst. What was his name?
May 30th was designated as the day to remember our soldiers. We often forget about the soldiers of the flying variety, that saved many of those soldiers lives.
The Dickin Medal, instituted by Mrs Maria Dickin, founder of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals in England, was popularly referred to as “the animals’ VC”. It was awarded to any animal displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty associated with, or under the control of, any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units during World War II and its aftermath.
British and American museums are full of memories of our flying heroes. Pigeons were decorated and buried with military honour. Visitors can admire military pigeons with names as Lord Adelaide, President Wilson, Julius Caesar, Lady Astor, Jungle Joe and Burma Queen. They were brave soldiers holding the rank of captain. There were more then 3000 soldiers and 150 officers of the United States Pigeon Service to take care of 54.000 military pigeons. Some of those pigeons were trained to fly at night; they went together with the field-post, paratroopers and submarines and made pictures of the enemy’s fleet, troops and targets for air attacks. One of the most well-known military pigeons was GI Joe. He accomplished his missions in Italy. GI Joe was honored in London by Lord Mayor with the Dickin Medal of Gallantry. The Royal Canadian Air Force had two successfully military pigeons, the “10601” and the “120”. The 10601 was born in 1928 and flew its missions mostly from submarines. He accomplished all his missions but was killed by a bird of prey. The “120” flew from Sasaginigek Lakes in very bad circumstances and got struck by a radio wire. Snow-White had a successful flight in Berlin during heavy bombardments. She flew from Hamburg to different lofts. Later on, she flew missions in Italy. Snow-White was honored with the “Military Cross”. Ruhr-Express was dropped behind German lines and had to race for about 300 miles (480 km) to its loft. Ruhr-Express brought important information. Scotch-Lass was dropped with a secret agent in the Netherlands on the early morning of September 12, 1944. He reached England with 38 micro-photos although he was wounded. One of the most famous English military pigeons was Mary, she was 22 times wounded. She flew during 5 years for the Allied Powers and was killed in action. Later on the body was found, covered with wounds.
When WWII broke out in the early 40’s the homing pigeon was brought back into service on both sides of the war. Many people do not realize that the head of the SS, Hemlic Hemmler, was also head of the national pigeon organization at one time and felt that the Nazis would benefit by taking over the national pigeon organization and the use of its members and birds. The Germans had 50,000 birds ready for use when the war had broken out. Unfortunately for America, the US Army Signal Corp did not maintain its pigeon program and to rebuild it from scratch. The Corp solicited birds from fanciers that were willing to donate them, and looked for new draftees that had a poultry or pigeon background to work as pigeoneers.
As we honor those who have served, let’s not forget about the animals who gave ‘it’ their all.