Unsung Heroes of War –

News Items 26 May 2013
Pigeons: Unsung Heroes of War
By Linda Lombardi | May 21, 2013 
For centuries, the fastest way to send a message over a long distance was by homing pigeon. These birds carried news of a new pharaoh to all corners of ancient Egypt and relayed the results of the Olympics to the ancient Greeks. They were even one of the earliest forms of military communication, used during wars in the days of Julius Caesar and Hannibal.
Nowadays, pigeons still get to show off their skills in the sport of racing. Released in unfamiliar locations, they can find their way home from hundreds of miles away, flying at speeds up to 60 miles an hour. But they’ve long been replaced by advanced technology to communicate long distance, so you might be surprised to learn that they were still used by the military as late as the Second World War.
Unlike radio, messages sent by pigeon couldn’t be overheard by enemy spies, and the birds often came through when technology didn’t. One such hero was a bird called G.I. Joe, who saved the day for British troops when they occupied Colvi Vecchia, Italy, during World War II. The Germans had retreated unexpectedly, so the British moved in and tried to cancel the planned U.S. bombing of the city. But all their attempts to communicate failed – except for G.I. Joe, who arrived back at the air base just as the bombers were preparing to take off.
Trained to Perform Remarkable Feats
Although pigeons are born with the instinct to return to their home loft, making them effective messengers in wartime took special training. Most of the men who did this training have passed on, but filmmaker Alessandro Croseri captured the memories of some of them for a series of documentaries called The Pigeoneers.
For his first film, Croseri interviewed Col. Clifford A. Poutre, chief pigeoneer of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, before his death at the age of 103. Croseri says that Poutre “changed the whole attitude about how they were training the birds.” During World War I, trainers thought the pigeons needed to be starved to make sure they’d return. In contrast, said Croseri, Poutre believed “it’s all about kindness and love.”
To read the entire article, please visit: http://www.pigeonsincombat.com/pigeoneersii-publications.html

Pigeons In Combat’s Memorial Day Sale is for a limited time only.  Sale ends May 31, 2013.  Please visit the store for more details: http://store.pigeonsincombat.com/
Kind regards,
Al Croseri
Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Alessandro Croseri Productions
301 East 21st Street
New York, NY 10010
212 677 6833
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About the author

Willie Reynolds

Covering the sport in Ireland for several years, scribe for both BHW & RP and a number of local newspapers including the News Letter (Farming Life Supplement) each Wednesday. Secretary of Ballymena & District for a number of years and currently PO for the Mighty NIPA & INFC. Watch out for the many articles/news items penned by HOMER.

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