Paddy the Pigeon

The real deal

This is the story of World War Two hero Paddy the Pigeon from Carnlough in Northern Ireland. Unlike the Desert Fox, Mad Dog McGlinchey, Richard the Lionheart, the Border Fox, Carlos the Jackal and the Black Panthers – Paddy really does what it says on the tin. He actually is, or was, a pigeon.

But not just any pigeon. He was the speediest RAF messenger pigeon during the Normandy landings.

Fake #1

The late (as in dead, not slow) Paddy has been in the news because he’s just been honoured with a fly past near his home. A fly past of pigeons. Loads of them. No doubt local car owners were delighted.

Paddy, courtesy of his medal, has Category Three Pigeon Status. (Category One: Airborne Vermin – includes nearly all  other pigeons. Category Two: Stool Pigeons. See bottom.)

Fake #2

The full story is below. It’s not from the Onion. It’s from the BBC. (Though don’t blame them for the pictures.)

Wartime hero pigeon Paddy honoured with fly-past

Fake #3

One of Northern Ireland’s smallest World War II heroes has been honoured.

Paddy, a messenger pigeon who served with the RAF during the Normandy operations in June 1944, was remembered in his home town of Larne on Friday.

PDSA, Britain’s biggest veterinary charity, awarded Paddy the Dickin Medal, dubbed the animals’ “Victoria Cross”, 65 years ago this month.

Fake #4

He received it for being the first pigeon to reach England with a coded message from the battle-front beaches of D-Day.

The brave bird brought back vital information on the Allies’ progress, flying 230 miles in 4 hrs 50 mins – the fastest time of any of the messenger pigeons involved in the mission – average speed 56mph.

Fake #5

PDSA spokesman James Puxty said: “Paddy’s contribution to the D-Day operations was a credit to the thousands of messenger pigeons donated by the racing pigeon fraternity for service during World War II.

“He was one of 32 brave, feathered heroes that received the PDSA Dickin Medal for their life-saving flights during the war, and the only recipient from Northern Ireland.”

Fake #6

Paddy was born and raised in Carnlough and joined thousands of other racing birds who were trained and drafted to RAF Hurn in Hampshire for military service.

Impressing military brass with his flying in the Air-Sea rescue units he was seconded to the United States First Army for undercover missions during the Normandy Landings.

In the face of poor weather conditions and the threat of German falcons, deployed to intercept Paddy and his comrades, he delivered his message to his home loft at RAF Hurn.

After the war Paddy returned to Carnlough and lived out his days with his owner Captain Andrew Hughes, until his death in 1954.

A memorial to the winged hero was erected in Carnlough harbour.

A feathered fly-past of pigeons formed part of the Paddy Memorial Day event held at Larne Museum and Arts Centre.

Larne Borough Council and the town’s historical society were joined by guests from PDSA and the owner of Paddy’s PDSA Dickin Medal, former Irish Army officer Kevin Spring. Younger guests were entertained by Gail Seekamp, the children’s author, who read from her book “Paddy the Pigeon”.

The Dickin Medal was introduced in 1943 by Maria Dickin, PDSA’s founder. She wanted to recognise the gallantry and devotion to duty of animals serving with the Armed Forces and Civil Defence units during WWII.

Other notable pigeons:

And who could forget the mysterious “winger” (geddit) who apparently put a curse on the England football team in at the World Cup final in South Africa. Here it is (below) protecting the Algerian goal against England’s efforts to score. 0-0 the final result.

Winger ... 'protecting Algeria goal'

And finally – as promised – just time for Stool Pigeon  (courtesy of Kid Creole and his Coconuts).



Filed under history

11 responses to “Paddy the Pigeon

  1. A true hero of our time. But one wonders how Paddy would’ve felt if Project Pigeon had been given the go-ahead.

    Completely indifferent, presumably.

  2. I have heard of pigeons during war time, yet never gave a thought to the threat of menacing falcons.

    Great post – Maxi

  3. Good for Paddy; touching and well deserved. Incidentally, in Dickensian times the Rothschilds had pigeons passing messages between the European finance centres- speedy information meant profit on the stock exchanges. Later, Reuters news agency had pigeons carrying news between international cities. Fine little things, well worthy of respect.

  4. We don’t see much feathered or any other kind of loyalty these days. Enjoyed this tremendously and was happy to be educated in the history of something pleasant in these times when most of the pleasures we know have been plucked from us. Excellent post.

  5. Strangely fascinating but incredibly interesting as well!

  6. Kirk

    Great post. Very interesting. People really get into the racing pigeons and I know falconer friends in the US who use fast homing pigeons to train their falcons. For anyone who is really interested in getting into the sport of racing pigeons (they can make a lot of $ apparently), I found this e-book on the subject. Thinking of getting into it myself, so I ordered the book. A good value. Here’s the website:

  7. i see what you did there

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  10. Uta

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