Signal Corps Pigeon Program
With the closure of Fort Monmouth, the CECOM History Office received a number of boxes containing various materials, to include books, manuals, photographs, collectable papers, and a number of items related to the history of predecessor operations. One such example is a collection of materials related to the Signal Corps Pigeon Program, which added to the limited numbers of materials already in the Archive. Pigeons carried out a vital role as members of the U.S. Army. As the history of this program indicates, pigeons carrying messages were responsible for saving 100s of lives, saving property, and in general carrying messages that allowed day-to-day operations to continue. And, they did so in two major wars and a major military action!
The collection had included maybe six archival boxes (including four boxes of birthing records) of materials and a smaller box of photographs. Today, the collection has grown to around three archive boxes of photographs (as well as additional digital images), and nineteen boxes of documents. The collection includes information from WWI and the post-war period when the program was set up at Fort Monmouth, to its cessation and the disposition of the pigeons in the mid-1950s. Also included is information related to external activities, as well as a number of documents related to an issue with prize money at pigeon races and Army-owned pigeons.
While the documents now in the Archive may not be a complete history of the program, they do present a rather comprehensive view of the program. In addition to the day-to-day operational documents, there is a collection of reports generated under contract on Bird Navigation, information related to pigeon diseases, standard operating procedures, informational documents, handbooks, Pigeon Unit histories, and other things the Army Pigeon Fancier might have needed. There are also biographies of some of the War Hero Pigeons, as well as portraits of those pigeons.
The History Office is available as an information resource for any number of topics related to our predecessor operations (the Signal Corps, Signal laboratories, and so on). The information related to the Pigeon Program is just one example of the information that is available. Information can be requested by using the contact form on the blog, or by visiting the Historical Office Archive, located at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Don’t forget to check out our extensive collection on our website: http://cecom.army.mil/historian/photolist.php?foldername=Pigeons
Note: This entry composed by Floyd, and edited & posted by Chrissie.