Homing pigeons kept D-Day secret

Radio signals have a characteristic that makes them unsuitable for use in battle: their propagation is uncontrolled. The enemy can receive them, so it’s necessary to encrypt all radio messages.

wireless operator/air gunner at right holds a wicker carrier containing a homing pigeon
wireless operator/air gunner at right holds a wicker carrier containing a homing pigeon
In WW2, as the Allies gathered strength in England, they reduced their D-Day losses by keeping the exact date and location of the assault a top secret. The Brits maintained radio silence on D-Day and used homing pigeons to report their assault’s progress to military command in England. The pigeons were transported by the troops and encrypted messages in tiny capsules were attached to their legs before tbey were released. This article in 2012 describes the discovery of such a pigeon’s skeleton decades later. An encrypted message on a tiny piece of paper was still fastened to its leg.

That’s a heroic pigeon.

It pales when compared to the brave soldiers who assaulted the German army on Normandy’s beaches on that June 6. Modern rock climbers, visiting Omaha beach, have seen its steep cliffs and asked, “How did they climb those — under fire?!

Strong stuff: first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, D-Day.

omaha beach d-day

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

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