D-Day 6th June 1944, The Animal Victoria Cross – THE DICKIN MEDAL
Jun 06 2014
The Dickin Medal is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, awarded for bravery by the PDSA. During World War II the British forces used some 250,000 homing pigeons in a variety of roles, but primarily for sending messages.
THE ANIMAL VICTORIA CROSS -
THE DICKIN MEDAL
Awarded to 3 year old pigeon
NURP.41.SBS.219 The Duke of Normandy, 21st Army Group,
D-Day 6/6/44, AFS, No. 1086, DM No.45.
The Dickin Medal is the animal
equivalent of the Victoria Cross, awarded for bravery by the PDSA.
During World War II the British forces used some 250,000 homing
pigeons in a variety of roles, but primarily for sending messages.
During the events leading up to and during the D-Day landings
pigeons brought back many messages from occupied France on German
preparations, defences and fortifications that undoubtably saved
many Allied lives.
The Duke of Normandywas one such
pigeon. Two other pigeons attained fame on the 6th June
-Gustav bringing first news of British initial landings andPaddy
reporting the success of the landings.
The Air Ministry maintained a
pigeon section throughout the war and a special Pigeon Policy Unit
determined roles for the pigeons - from carrying messages to taking
photographs with miniature cameras to their potential for dropping
small explosive charges and bio weapons. The last country to
finally disband its pigeon section was Switzerland in 1996.
The Germans used snipers as well as
trained falcons to attempt to stop the carrying of messages from
The citation from the PDSA
regarding theDuke of Normandystates:
"For being the first bird to arrive
with a message from Paratroops of the 21st Army Group
behind enemy lines on D-Day, 6th June 1944 while serving
with the APS (Allied Pigeon Service)."
The Duke was dropped behind enemy
lines in June with a group of paratroopers tasked with silencing
the powerful Merville Battery, which overlooked Sword Beach. As
radio silence was crucial the Duke was carried to take back the
message that the battery had been taken. Of over 600 men, who were
dropped, only 150 managed to reach the target and after fierce
fighting the objective was overcome with heavy loss. The Duke was
duly released and after 26 hours and 50 minutes flying landed back
at his loft with the news of a successful operation. He was awarded
the medal in 1947 during a televised ceremony at the BBC Alexandra
The Dickin medal has been awarded
64 times; 32 of which were for pigeons.
Available for Private
Treaty Sale £15,000