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A bird's eye view of World Wars

A new educational project, Secret Messages, offers kids the opportunity to learn about the role of carrier pigeons during the World Wars

Posted by Dave Higgitt | July 31, 2014 | Teaching

A collaboration between the Midlands National Flying Club and the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, the interactive project will teach children how to write simple secret messages and demonstrate how pigeons carried important messages during the wars.

During World II, over a quarter of a million pigeons were donated by British fanciers to help in the war effort. Their contribution to the war effort did not go unnoticed, with 32 of the 62 Dickin medals awarded to date going to carrier pigeons.

The very first pigeon to win the Dickin medal was Royal Blue who won the medal “for being the first pigeon in this war to deliver a message from a forced landed aircraft on the continent while serving with the RAF in October 1940”.

Royal Blue was donated by the King, illustrating the royal family’s strong connection with pigeon racing since the late 1890’s. To this day, there is a loft at Sandringham and the Queen is now a patron of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association.

Donna Beard, who delivers the lessons to the school children, said: “We have had a really positive response to taking pigeons into schools in the past, which is why we feel that the Secret Messages project will be of great value to children and their teachers alike. Children enjoying handling the birds and learning to write their own secret messages will help to bring the importance of these birds’ contribution. What a great tribute to all involved in WW1 and WW2.”

Schools are able to apply to Flying Back to Nature for an experienced handler to visit with a small team of homing pigeons. The Secret Messages project is available to all children of all ages in the UK and is a free service.

For school visit enquires, contact Peter Humphries from Flying Back to Nature:

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