It's been a while since we've had any news concerning Dickin Medals, the awards given to animals for bravery in wartime. Dogs, horses, and even pigeons have been recipients. Here's an update on a memorial to Dickin winner Paddy the Pigeon.
A mystery lady has resurrected my interest in Paddy the Second World War hero pigeon. She stepped out of a car by the harbour wall in Carnlough, armed with a duster and a tin of Brasso, and gave Paddy’s memorial plaque there a brisk clean-up. Then she produced her camera and took a couple of pictures of the now glittering plaque.
“I learned the true story of Paddy from my late father when I was little and I’ve never forgotten it,” she explained. “I call to see that the memorial is in good shape every now and again.”
I love the story of Paddy the Pigeon from Carnlough, too. He was decorated for bravery, awarded the Dickin Medal — the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross — after helping the Allies win the Second World War in his own feathery way.
Seven years ago Paddy was remembered with a race in his honour from St Mallow in France to Co Antrim lofts.
It was a long-distance flypast celebrating the little bird’s original achievement, flying from the dangerous Normandy beachhead to a safe haven in Hampshire a few days after D-Day in 1944 with vital information about German gun emplacements.
The Dickin Medal has been awarded only 63 times since it was introduced in the blackout days of 1943 and Paddy’s gong, which is now in the hands of a private collector, is valued at around £10,000.
Paddy’s flight from the battlefield took four hours and 50 minutes those 73 years ago. His early training was at Ballykelly RAF base from where he took part in air-sea rescue dramas.
Paddy, originally from the Moyleen loft of the late Carnlough fancier Andrew Hughes who presented him to the National Pigeon Service to be trained for military duty, never flew on another wartime mission.
His code name was U2 and Paddy the pigeon was the only Irish animal of any kind to be decorated for bravery with a Dickin Medal, which had been introduced by animal lover Maria Dickin and granted official approval by Churchill and American commander Dwight Eisenhower.
To read the complete article, see:
Dusting off memories of Carnlough hero pigeon
Wayne Homren, Editor
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