Homing pigeons have a long history of help in battle:
Genghis Khan used them to keep Asia in order;
the Romans learnt of the conquest of Gaul
from a piece of parchment around a pigeon’s leg;
and a single bird brought to England
notice of Napoleon’s defeat.
We are still holding out…
Over 100,000 pigeons
were used in World War One
with ninety-five percent of birds reaching their destination.
Messages were placed in small containers
and clipped around the birds’ legs.
but suffering gas attack
with their very dangerous fumes.
A pigeon’s great strengths were its extraordinary
homing instincts and the speed at which it flew.
The only natural way to counter them was with birds of prey.
But birds were injured by artillery shells -
during the first World War;
one pigeon carried a message successfully
for twenty-four miles. It arrived with a leg shot off
and its breast shot through by a bullet –
It’s imperative to break off.
Give this urgent communication to Sauville
who’s not answering my requests.
and a number of course were killed in action.
This is my last pigeon.
By Frances Green