Blue Bar Cock Pigeon No139 : Dickin Medal winner

Accession Number RELAWM30785
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Aluminium, Animal hide, Feathers, Keratin
Maker Whittle, Gordon
Date made 1943
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Mounted skin of a carrier pigeon. The Blue Bar cock carries an alumium ring on his right leg that is impressed '139:D [broad arrow]D:43:T'.

History / Summary

This pigeon was donated to the army in 1943, as a patriotic gesture by a civilian pigeon fancier, Mr George Adams of 11 Vigo Street, Footscray, Victoria, for use in signals units in New Guinea. Mr Adams, however, was not the bird's breeder. As part of his effort to obtain birds for the war effort Adams approached members of pigeon clubs in the Melbourne area, seeking the donation of birds. After he had approached the Yarraville Pigeon Club, one of its members, Mr Gordon Whittle, whose family had bred and raced pigeons for many years, donated a number of birds. One of the pigeons he donated was awarded the Dickin Medal for gallantry as a result of a flight he undertook through a severe tropical storm near Madang, New Guinea, on 12 July 1945.

At the time the pigeon was located at 10 Pigeon Section (Type B) attached to Detachment 55 Port Craft Company, Madang. On that day he carried the following message, from a foundering boat, to Madang, flying 40 miles in 50 minutes. The message reads: 'To: Detachment 55 Australian Port Craft Company, MADANG. From: A.B. 1402. Date: 12.7.45. Engine Failed. Wash on to beach at WADAU owing very heavy seas. Send help immediately. Am rapidly filling with sand./ TOO: 0800 - Senders signature - HOLLAND Cpl./ TO Liberation 0805 - No. of copies 2./ TOR at Loft - 0855'. As a result of the successful delivery of the message the boat together with valuable stores, ammunition and equipment was salvaged. The bird had previously completed 23 operational flights over a total distance of 1,004 miles.

The pigeon was awarded the Dickin Medal in February 1947. The citation reads: 'During a heavy tropical storm this bird was released from Army boat 1402 which had foundered on Wadou Beach in the Huon Gulf. Homming 40 miles to Madang it brought a message which enabled a rescue ship to be sent in time to salvage the craft and its valuable cargo of stores and ammunition.'