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5 Carrier Pigeon Stories

1

G.I. Joe to the Rescue

A pigeon named G.I. Joe came to the rescue of British troops during World War II, when radio transmissions failed.
A pigeon named G.I. Joe came to the rescue of British troops during World War II, when radio transmissions failed.
GLEB GARANICH/Reuters/Corbis | Bettmann/CORBIS (2) | Hulton Archive/Getty Images | FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images | PhotoQuest/Getty Images |

In October 1943, during World War II, the Americans were scheduled to bomb the German-occupied town of Colvi Vecchia in Italy. However, at the last minute, German defenses fell to the British 56th Infantry Brigade, and the Germans retreated. The British had the town now, but they needed to send word to the Americans to cancel the scheduled bombing.

Unfortunately, radio transmissions were failing, and the British had to rely on a pigeon by the name of "G.I. Joe" to deliver the message. The valiant G.I. Joe flew 20 miles in 20 minutes. He arrived in the nick of time, just before bombers lifted off, saving the town and 150 British troops. The British awarded G.I. Joe the Dickin Medal for Gallantry.

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The U.S. Army maintained their "Pigeon Corps" until 1956. And in the 21st century in France, pigeons have been used to carry blood samples to testing facilities from remote locations.

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