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Last Updated:  Saturday, 29 March, 2003, 14:56 GMT
'Unlucky' pigeon joins army
A racing pigeon that strayed off course has joined up with the British Army in Iraq.

The lost bird was spotted perching on tents at an army encampment in southern Iraq.

Believed by the soldiers to be a British racing pigeon, the bird was found by a Dorset-based army musician whose grandfather races pigeons.

Unlucky - as the bird has been nicknamed - was released again but is now a regular visitor at tents around the encampment.

'Reminder of home'

It has a green metal ring around its leg, bearing the number 97.OWJan2319619.

Shaun Huntington, 23, who usually plays with the Hussars and Light Dragoons Band in Dorset, said: "I think he's lost, and he's probably scared by the sounds of gunfire and artillery.

"He's in good condition, so someone's obviously been caring for him.

"My grandfather keeps racing pigeons so it's a bit of a reminder of home, so it has made me a bit homesick.

"If he sticks around we could always use him as a messenger pigeon to get mail back to our families."

The musician, from Peterlee, Co Durham, is currently serving in Iraq with the 1 Close Support Medical Regiment.

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