Page last updated at 10:42 GMT, Monday, 14 September 2009 11:42 UK

Hometown party for war hero bird

Paddy the pigeon
Paddy the pigeon from Carnlough was a war hero

A war hero pigeon who received a medal for his bravery is to be honoured in his home town of Carnlough.

Paddy the pigeon, who was bred in the townland of Moyleen, was the first bird to fly back with news of the D-Day landings in Normandy in World War II.

Now, a plaque is being put up at Carnlough harbour in honour of the only Irish pigeon to receive a Dickin medal.

Paddy received the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross for a secret mission codenamed "U2".

Two days after D-Day, 30 pigeons were transported to France by a unit of the 1st US Army.

Paddy's task began in Normandy at around 0815 BST on 12 June, when he was released while carrying coded information on the Allied advance.

Paddy received a bravery medal
Paddy received a bravery medal

He returned to his loft in Hampshire in just four hours and 50 minutes, the fastest time recorded by a message-carrying pigeon during the Normandy landings.

After the war, the bird was returned to his owner in Carnlough, where he died in 1954, aged eleven years old.

At a special ceremony next Saturday the plaque will be unveiled by John McMullan, a well-known local pigeon breeder and friend of Captain Andrew Hughes, an army officer, who owned Paddy.

A song about the famous pigeon will have its first public airing at the event.

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