BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 07:21 GMT
War-hero pigeon is remembered
Paddy the pigeon
Paddy the pigeon from Carnlough was a war hero
A County Antrim pigeon who received a medal for his war-time bravery is being remembered at a special ceremony in England.

Paddy the pigeon was bred in Moyleen, Carnlough.

He was decorated for being the first bird to fly back with news of the D-Day landings in Normandy in World War II.

Paddy is one of 62 animals who received the PSDA Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, for bravery in the war.

Like many homing pigeons, he was "volunteered" by his owners in response to an appeal by the government to support the war effort.

As radio signals could compromise operations, carrier pigeons were used to ferry important messages back to Britain. The pigeons formed the National Pigeon Service.

Paddy even had his own number - NPS.43.9451.

Paddy received a bravery medal
Paddy received a bravery medal

The Germans rumbled the importance of the winged courier service and stationed a flight of hawks at Calais to intercept the Allied pigeons.

Paddy, however, wasn't only a brave pigeon, he was also incredibly quick.

He received the PDSA Dickin Medal on 1 September 1944 for recording the quickest time to return with information from the D-Day landings at Normandy on 6 June that year while he was serving with the RAF.

Dogs, horses, pigeons and a cat received medals because they helped save thousands of lives in the war.

They are buried at the PDSA animal cemetery in Redbridge, Ilford and all are being remembered at a special ceremony.

Veteran military personnel who served with the animals will stage a march past and a bugler will sound the Last Post.

A fly-past by pigeons will commemorate the 32 birds who were honoured for their bravery.

Actress Jenny Seagrove is to formally reopen the cemetery. Restoration work was carried out over the past year with the help of a 50,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund's People's Millions.

Paddy's medal was sold to a pigeon fancier for almost 7,000 at an auction in Dublin in September 1999.

Fancier flies away with pigeon medal
26 Sep 99 |  Northern Ireland

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific