Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Let slip the Pigeons of war.

Pigeons being transported to the Front by Dispatch Rider
Via: Divisional Signal Company Royal Engineers

"On 11th September 1914, 15 Pigeons were handed over to British intelligence by the French. These birds were used for intelligence purposes only, but from this small beginning was destined to grow a great branch of the Signal Service. No less than 90,000 men had been trained to care for and fly Pigeons. The Pigeoneers went over the top with Pigeons in 'Assault Baskets', ready to carry important messages back to HQ.

An R.E. Signaller with "Pigeon Assault Basket"

In one Corps alone, in the Second Army offensive of June, 1917, 532 birds were issued on a single day and 92 operation messages received back. The approximate number of Pigeons in use during the offensive on the Somme in 1917 was 12,000 birds.

The pigeon service at this period of the war had far outstripped the forward wireless service in its practical utility."

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