Another heroic pigeon named G.I. Joe saved the lives of a thousand soldiers in World War 2 after British troops had established a position within an Italian town that was due to be bombed by allied planes. Communication equipment was down and the only means of stopping the raid was to attach a hastily written message to G.I. Joe and send him to the HQ. G.I. Joe flew 20 miles in 20 minutes arriving at the air base whilst the planes were taxiing on the runway. G.I. Joe received the ‘Dickin’ medal for his bravery.
Cher Ami was a registered Black Check Cock carrier pigeon. He was one of 600 birds owned and flown by the United States Army Signal Corps in France during World War I. He delivered 12 important messages within the American sector at Verdun, France. On his last mission, Cher Ami was shot through the breast by enemy fire, yet he managed to return to his loft. A message capsule was found dangling from the ligaments of one of his legs that also had been shattered by enemy fire. The capsule contained a message from Major Charles Whittlesey. As commander of the “Lost Battalion” of the 77th Infantry Division, his troops had been isolated behind enemy lines without food and ammunition and they were beginning to receive fire from allied troops who didn’t know they were there. Cher Ami’s bravery paid off and just hours after the message was received, the 194 survivors of the battalion were returned safely to the American line.
Cher Ami was inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931 and received a gold medal from the Organized Bodies of American Racing Pigeon Fanciers in recognition of his extraordinary service during World War I. During a battle in France, the American soldiers found themselves surrounded by the enemy. Then they found themselves being fired on by their own side! They tried sending a message to their fellow troops by pigeon. The first message said, "Many wounded. We cannot evacuate." The pigeon carrying the message was shot down. They sent out a second bird with the message, "Men are suffering. Can support be sent?" That pigeon too was shot down. One homing pigeon was left-Cher Ami. His message was, "Our artillery is dropping a barrage on us. For heaven's sake, stop it!" The men of the Lost Battalion saw Cher Ami fly up-and then saw him shot down. Yet soon Cher Ami was airborne again. Hopes soared. Cher Ami's leg was shot off and and hanging from his ligaments was the message capsule. He also was hit by another bullet through the chest. Still, this bird kept flying. Cher Ami finally got through. The shooting stopped, and many lives (at least 200) were saved.
A complete list of pigeons awarded
"THE DICKEN MEDAL"
NEHU.40.NS.1 - Blue Cheq. Hen "Winkie"
MEPS.43.1263 - Red Cheq. Cock "George"
SURP.41.L.3089 - White Hen "White Vision"
NPS.41.NS.4230 - "Beachbomber"
NPS.42.31066 - Grizzle Cock "Gustav"
NPS.43.94451 - Dark Cheq. Cock "Paddy"
NURP.36.JH.190 - Dark Cheq. Hen "Kenley Lass"
NURP.38.EGU.242 - Red Cheq. Cock "Commando"
NPS.42.NS.44802 - Dark Cheq. Cock "Flying Dutchman"
NURP.40.GVIS.453- Blue Cock "Royal Blue"
NURP.41.A.2164 - "Dutch Coast"
NPS.41.NS.2862 - Blue Cock "Navy Blue"
NPS.42.NS.15125 - Mealy Cock "William of Orange"
NPS.43.29018 - Dark Cheq. Cock "Ruhr Express"
NPS.42.21610 - B.C. Hen "Scotch Lass"
NU.41.HQ.4373 - Blue Cock "Billy"
NURP.39.NRS.144 - Red Cock "Cologne"
NPS.42.36392 - "Maquis"
41.BA.2793 - "Broad Arrow"
NURP.39.SDS.39 - "All Alone"
NURP.37.CEN.335 - "Mercury"
NURP.41.SBC.219 - Cock "Duke of Normandy"
NURP.43.CC.2418 - B.C. Hen
NURP.40.WLE.249 - "Mary"
NURP.41.DHZ.56 - "Tommy"
42.WD.593 - "Princess"
USA.43.SC.6390 - "G.I. Joe"
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