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Eran Tearosh

Usage of pigeons in the Palestine campaign

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Eran Tearosh

 

 

A member of The society for the Heritage of WWI in Israel is planning to talk in our AGM about this topic. However, so far, all that was found (Quite a lot, I must say) is connected only to the activities of the Jewish spy ring NILI.  

 

The society member who’s exploring this suspects that there were additional usages of pigeons, by others. I suggested a few additional potential groups: Intelligence officers behind enemy lines; Other local spy rings – Arab Christians or Muslims; Intelligence recruits such as members of the American community in Jerusalem etc.

 

We are looking for any kind of info regarding such activity.

 

Thanks,

 

Eran

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gareth Davies

Tanks used pigeons in France and Flanders but there is no mention of any pigeons being used by the Palestine Tank Detachment.  

 

In A Brief Record of The Advance of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force it lists (p38) a Pigeon Section as part of the GHQ troops order of battle.  

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SiegeGunner

I believe that British intelligence officer Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, who was also a noted ornithologist, was in contact with NILI.  I wonder whether he wrote anything about the use of pigeons, given the prevalence of birds of prey in Palestine.

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Eran Tearosh

Gareth - Thanks! Missed that... Any idea where I can find something about this unit?

 

Siegegunner - I'm not aware of direct contact between Meinertzhagen and NILI, and I don't remember any reference to pigeons in his book. I'll look again. 

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Gareth Davies

I can only guess that there might be something in the National Archives.

 

I notice that in the book Mapping My Return: A Palestinian Memoir there is a passing reference to Father Antonin Jaussen using pigeons to send message in al Arish.  He was a British spy.

 

Have you seen this German pigeon? https://treasures.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/treasures/meinertzhagens-diary/

 

A brief mention here of NZ NCOs learning to handle messenger pigeons http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH1-Sina-t1-body-d4-d5.html

 

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michaeldr

The supply of agents, money, weapons, etc to the Syrian coast was handled by Captain L. B. Weldon MC, operating from HMY Managem, and he described his experiences in his book 'Hard Lying' published in 1925.

He did one or two 'test flights' with the pigeons, releasing them (c. June 1917) at Abu Zebora and he notes that all returned safely to Port Said. They were then used after that without any comments by Weldon, except that on one occasion (c. mid-July 1917) where he notes that in landing the pigeons at Athlit

That night on the beach I realised how loudly pigeons can coo. It seemed to me that the little brutes made enough noise to bring half the Turkish army down on me. But the Turks must have been very soundly asleep, and I handed the birds safely over to our friends on shore – finding that we had been very lucky not to arrive a day earlier. For the man I met told me that a German submarine had arrived at Athlit the day previous, and that some of her crew had landed for provisions.”

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michaeldr

58f9e769dd89b_HMYManagem.jpg.b7e4a515101a2a5a09a866d61fc9e0f2.jpgI have no shots of the pigeons, however Weldon's book does let us see the carrier pigeon carrier, HMY Managem (above)

her crew (below)

58f9e7e2d5174_CrewofHMYManagem.thumb.jpg.e3f1ca40aba8c9ae5bd32d16c4fb65a6.jpg

 

For general information on the use of pigeons, this manual was previously recommended by our GWF Pal Maureene

http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_100022541314.0x000002#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=0&z=-2137.9558%2C0%2C5814.9117%2C2336

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Terry_Reeves

There was a Pigeon Section with GHQ Troops , Eastern Force, attached to the Desert Column from 18.10.16.  

 

TR

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stevebecker

Mates,

 

I did find this from an AIF LH soldier;

 

ASH Victor Edward William 1176 Pte 9 LHR 9R Tos B Sqn 12-15 to Anzac MD HQ Pigeon Corps 11-16 rtn 1-17 to L/Cpl 4-17 to Cpl 10-17 to T/Sgt 5-19

 

I'll see what I can find on this pigeon Corps with the AIF?

 

S.B
 

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Maureene
20 hours ago, michaeldr said:

The supply of agents, money, weapons, etc to the Syrian coast was handled by Captain L. B. Weldon MC, operating from HMY Managem, and he described his experiences in his book 'Hard Lying' published in 1925.

 

This book is available online  as a pdf download Digital Library of India, although the author is not catalogued correctly.

http://www.new.dli.ernet.in/handle/2015/527779

The full title is Hard Lying.” Eastern Mediterranean, 1914-1919

Cheers

Maureen

Edit: The photos in the digital file are poor quality.

Edited by Maureene

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Eran Tearosh

Found this paragraph in Fall's HO, referring to the preparations before Megiddo: "Corps Headquarters and divisions were each allotted ten pigeons from the G.H.Q. loft. These birds had to be liberated within four days of receipt, but arrangements were made to maintain a daily supply of ten to each division thereafter" (p. 460)

 

First: This means that the Pigeon Section of the Signal Service was quite substantial - must have had many hundreds of birds!

Second: There must be records of such a unit - either by the Pigeon Section itself or in the records of the Signal service

 

Did the Signal Service publish anything? Any additional ideas how to explore this issue further?

 

Eran  

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Eran Tearosh

Everyone:

 

Renewing the request for help on this issue. We have quite a bit on the intelligence usage of pigeons, and a few bits that indicate that there was a substantial pigeon section within the Signal Service.  Did the Signal Service publish anything?

 

Does anyone know of actual usage of pigeons during the fighting (Diaries, Unit histories etc.)? Even only a few testimonies will be quite a help.

 

Eran

 

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James A Pratt III

There is a book on British Intel operations in Palestine in WW I. I can't remember the name off hand.

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Eran Tearosh

That's Prof. Yigal Sheffy's book British Military Intelligence in the Palestine Campaign, 1914-1918. No reference to usage of pigeons....

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