Saturday, 20 December 2008

First Post

Christmas is nearly here. Already I've received a surprise by post. It's a local newspaper cutting from 30 August 1990 about the prizewinning pigeons that helped to win the war. They were pedigree Logans and Barkers, frequently winning trophies and certificates for long distance races in the 1920s. The loft had become so well known that it was called the Great Doods Loft - number 18 Doods Road I'm told.

Early in World War 2, Reigate was chosen as the HQ for Montgomery's South Eastern Command. For the vital messages to and from this control hub, a despatch riders' camp was established just by the hillside near Pilgrims Way, and only a minute or two along a specially constructed road leading down to Underbeeches, where Monty was staying. No one was allowed up there of course and it's all overgrown now, but still the evidence is there. The grand old Victorian houses and new villas in the area were commandeered to accommodate the army personnel.

The War Office also took over Mr Blasby's local pigeon loft. The birds would have cylinders on their legs just like lipstick. Each day one or two of them used to fly in and land on the loft carrying their messages, so there was a sentry on guard, day and night! If the owner's family went anywhere near it, the guard would up his gun. How sad that the owner wasn't allowed to feed or even visit his pigeons. The news item reports that it broke his heart.

Some of them returned wounded, and the birds that survived were in a really bad state by the end of the war. The end of the story? They were awarded pigeon VCs.

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