Carrier pigeons were used throughout the First World War to send short messages on land, in the air and at sea. Pigeons were sometimes the only reliable way of getting vital messages through and as well as carrying messages on land, pigeons were also used when men were stranded at sea. 

Discover more about carrier pigeons; the unsung heroes of the First World War. 


Attaching the message

A Royal Navy pigeon is used to demonstrate the method of fixing messages to a bird's leg.


Short messages required

A message carried by a pigeon. Message reads, 'On water attacked by 3 Huns'.


Pigeon No. 498

Pigeon No. 498, which Skipper Thomas Crisp sent for help when he was attacked by a German U-boat in August 1917. Crisp was killed but, despite being wounded in one wing by shrapnel,  the bird delivered the message in time for help to be sent to the crew.


Saving Airmen

A pigeon which saved four lives. It struggled against a gale with a message from four airmen who had come down in the sea. The bird died from exhaustion upon arrival.


Pigeons in the RAF

This RAF pigeon was claimed to have flown 22 miles in 22 minutes to deliver a message that helped with the rescue of two wrecked seaplane pilots.


Pigeons in the Tank Corps

A carrier pigeon being released from a port-hole in the side of a tank near Albert, 9 August 1918. The Tank Corps often used carrier pigeons to relay information during an advance.


'Dreadnought' the Pigeon

'Dreadnought' - a carrier pigeon used by the Royal Engineers Signal Service.


Risking injury

Carrier pigeons often flew through heavy artillery fire and risked injury, This pigeon was shot in left eye whilst carrying message from a British seaplane attacked in the North Sea. Despite the injury, the bird was still able to deliver the message to its destination.



A former London double-decker bus (B.2125), camouflage painted, used as a travelling loft for carrier-pigeons. Pernes, 26 June 1918. Pigeons returning to the loft at the top of the bus.
A former London double-decker bus being used as a mobile loft for carrier-pigeons.

Carrier pigeons were allotted to both stationary and mobile lofts. This photograph shows a former London double-decker bus being used as a mobile loft. Between 60-75 birds could be housed in a mobile loft at any one time.

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