Spike – Distinguished Signal Corps Pigeon
During the first half of the 20th century, pigeons were vital to communications during both war and peacetime. The Signal Corps Pigeon Program operated from 1918, until its discontinuance in 1957. In 1919, the Pigeon Program was transferred from France, where it had been part of the American Expeditionary Forces, to Fort Monmouth. The program was headquartered for most of its active life at Fort Monmouth. This “series” of blogs is a presentation of biographical information for some of the more distinguished Pigeons in this program.
Spike was a veteran of WWI. His biographical information describes him as a “grizzly cock” or “grizzle cock” bearing the identification number “USA-18-17220.” He was bred in France in early 1918; his heritage, Sire QCCAG 3778 RCSplC and Dam PB 3213 Blue H.
Spike is described as having been a strong aggressive fast flying bird of great vitality and capacity for endurance. “Although not a handsome bird in appearance” as his biography states, he was “an ideal type for the Signal Communication Service. The biography goes on to say though “no definite official record remains of the service of this remarkable bird”, he was reported the delivered 52 messages in action during WWI.
Upon Spike’s passing, a newspaper article bearing the date “April 13”, but without a year appeared presumably in the Fort Monmouth newspaper (it would have been 1935). The article credits spike as having been one of the last surviving pigeons of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) with the record 52 flights over the battle lines in France for the 77th Division. The article states that when mounted, Spike would be given a place beside “Cher Ami” and “President Wilson” in the “carrier pigeon Valhalla, the headquarters of the chief signal officer in the Army building, Washington.” According to this article, Spike was 17 years old.
Note: This entry composed by Floyd, and edited/posted by Chrissie.