The Daily Mail reports:
- The Dickin Medal was won by a bird that was dropped behind enemy lines
- The bird, named the Duke of Normandy, delivered news of D-Day landings
- The award is the animal version of the Victoria Cross
A lost bravery medal awarded to a homing pigeon that was the first to bring news of the D-Day landings back to Britain has been discovered after 69 years.
The Dickin Medal – the animal version of the Victoria Cross – was won by a bird called the Duke of Normandy that was dropped behind enemy lines with Allied paratroopers hours before the invasion.
The men were to capture bridges at the eastern end of the Normandy bridgehead and head towards the beaches to link up with the main invasion force.
Cooped up in a small cage, the grand cock breed was released by a paratrooper at 6am on June 6, 1944, with a message attached to it relating to the success of the drop.
As was normal with World War Two carrier pigeons, ‘The Duke’ flew back to its owner’s loft who then contacted the War Office.
In spite of strong winds and being shot at by German riflemen, the bird arrived in one piece 26 hours later, bringing vital news of the momentous operation.
The Duke was one of 32 pigeons to be awarded the Dickin Medal for their heroics in the war.
It was thought his gong had been lost over the course of time but it turned up in a box of old badges bought by a collector 25 years ago.
Even then, the unnamed owner had no idea what it was until several Dickin Medals were featured on an episode of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow last month.
He dug it out and has made it available for sale at auction, with a pre-sale estimate of 10,000 pounds.
Steven Bosley, of Bosley’s auctioneers of Marlow, Bucks, said: “As radio silence was of utmost importance during the paratrooper part of D-Day, the role of racing pigeons became crucial.