Saturday, 5 February 2011

Pigeon Post's WW2 pigeon homework

There is nothing better for cheering me up after a truly awful week than a stroke of luck - or was it merely a coincidence?

The reason I called this blog Pigeon Post is that during World War 2, a prize-winning pigeon loft at 18 Doods Road, Reigate was commandeered for the war effort. Reigate was the Battle HQ for South Eastern Command, headed by the military VIP, General Montgomery.

For my talks on Churchill's Secret Reigate, I always feature the role of these pigeons because it just goes to show how small creatures and small messages can make all the difference if they are delivered safely - and sometimes with great bravery. I have even suggested to the Council of the Reigate Society that they should be commemorated somehow locally, but they seemed to think it was a silly idea. Oh well it's their loss - our next-door ancient market town, Dorking, commemorates a flipping chicken on its main Deepdene roundabout, just where Churchill used to stay as a teenager.

I knew that the Dickin Medal had been awarded to at least one of Mr Blasby's Reigate pigeons. This is the equivalent of a Victoria Cross for animals! In total, 32 pigeons were awarded the Dickin Medal for their magnificent wartime work. Oh, how I would have liked to find out more - like their specific names, and which one did what. I guess that they had a key role in the D Day landings since these were secretly planned by Monty's army staff on a massive scale. I think it is an inspiring story.

So it was a great delight to go to Bletchley Park on Sunday - my birthday - and at the last minute to find a whole roomful of exhibits in code-breaker Alan Turing's Hut 8 - devoted to the role of pigeons in war! I shall have to go again sometime in warmer weather, and allocate an hour or so to view those exhibits in detail.

How strange that this morning, only 6 days later, when Dave my window cleaner and his friend Malcolm turned up about some household repairs - what should the guttering man do as a hobby but breed racing pigeons! So he is going to lend me a book.

And just as a bit of light relief from the ugliness and deceptions of this corrupt, sad world, I am now eagerly awaiting a DVD called "Valiant". It has only cost me one penny and it's the story of one of those splendid D Day pigeons - as a British-made cartoon. I hope that will be fun.

PS It was. I recommend it to schoolchildren needing to learn about World War 2 without any books or study skills.

1 comment:

  1. Always a joy to read the unique Grace Filby mix of fun and gravitas.

    Don't let the proverbials grind you down Grace. Those of us who know and love you, know our worth (and their lack-of).


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