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Pigeon’s Message Saves Fliers, 1944

The Army’s Signal Corps used pigeons for communications from WWI, and into the Korean War; to this end, the Pigeon Service was active at Fort Monmouth until it discontinuance in 1957.  In 1944, an article subtitled “Bird Flies for Aid as Plane Crashes in Atlantic Hop” appeared in the Signal Corps Message.

As reported by the Signal Corps Message, two Royal Canadian Air Force Flying Officers owed their lives to the heroism of Captain Gene Hamilton and a carrier pigeon released from their disabled bomber.  The article stated that this “clearly emphasizes the value of the pigeon in ‘getting the message through’” when other means of communication  failed.

The Canadian pilots were delivering a twin-engine medium bomber to the Mediterranean theater, and at the time were flying in the South Atlantic.  Ninety miles north of an ocean ferry base in Brazil, one engine failed completely and the other was running only irregularly.  Captain Hamilton passed a note to his companion ordering a jump.

An S.O.S. call was sent out, and a carrier pigeon was released with a message about the plane’s location.  After parachuting clear at 1,000 feet the other engine failed and the plane dropped rapidly.  However, the Captain had stayed behind to ensure the plane cleared the evacuees.  He then evacuated but was too late for his parachute to open, and as well he was struck by the tail of the spinning plane.

The S.O.S. was received and the pigeon arrived shortly afterwards with the message on rice paper disclosing the plane’s location.  American and R.A.F. aircraft began a day and night search and located the wreck and its two survivors.

Who was this hero pigeon?  The article does not name the bird.  However, the importance of the Pigeon Service and the heroism on the part of those gallant birds that served is reinforced by stories such as this.

Note: This blog written by Floyd Hertweck, and edited/posted by Chrissie Reilly.

Posted in Pigeons.

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