Staff at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra realized something strange was going on when poppies from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier started disappearing in early October. The mystery was solved by a maintenance worker who spotted the colorful nest of poppies in an alcove next to a stained glass window depicting a wounded Australian soldier in the Hall of Memory.
The memorial explained that the wounded soldier represented the attribute of “endurance”, while the nest of poppies was a “reminder of the powerful bond between man and beast on the battlefield”.
Although pigeons are often considered as ‘pests’, nowadays, they have been useful allies during wars throughout history.
“Particularly in the early wars, communication is really difficult. Wireless is in its absolute infancy in the First World War and telephone wires get broken apart in the shellfire on the Western Front. So pigeons are particularly of use in warfare when you’ve got a couple of men trying to get a message from where they are back to the backline; a pigeon can get that through sometimes when nothing else can, ” historian Dr. Meleah Hampton said.
One exceptional pigeon on duty, named ‘White Vision’ received The PDSA Dickin Medal for “delivering a message under exceptionally difficult conditions and so contributing to the rescue of an aircrew while serving with the RAF in October 1943”.
During World War II, 32 pigeons received the medal which is awarded to any animal displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.
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