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Air mail at Dieppe

Messenger pigeons were also used during the First World War, like the one being released by Canadian soldiers in this photo.
Photo: Library and Archives Canada PA-001378


This was a special year of remembrance for my family and me as it marked 75 years since the Dieppe Raid during the Second World War. My ancestor Beachcomber was there on August 19, 1942, when the Canadians landed on the beaches of Dieppe, France. It was a sad day as more than 900 of our men lost their lives.

Back in 1942, soldiers had different ways of sending messages than people do today. There were no cell phones. Walkie-talkies had just been invented but were not widely used yet. Radios were so big that you had to wear them on your back! Therefore, the Canadian Army sometimes relied on pigeons like me to carry important messages. These notes were written on tiny pieces of paper that were put in small containers on pigeons’ legs. We are so clever… we know where to go without a fancy GPS!

Beachcomber had a really important message to carry all the way to Britain from the beaches of France. He had to dodge gunfire and fly over the English Channel to deliver news about the Dieppe Raid. It was not easy, but he made it! For his courage, Beachcomber received the PDSA Dickin Medal, the highest award for bravery an animal can receive. What an honour! When I think about it, my feathers fluff with pride.

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