Australian Racing Pigeon History

Australian Birds at War

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Blue bar cock No. 139:D/D:43:T Detachment 10 Pigeon Section (Type B) attached to Detachment 55 Port Craft Company, Madang 12 July 1945. Awarded the Dickin Medal for gallantry carrying a message through a severe tropical storm thereby bringing help to an army boat with a vital cargo, in danger of foundering.

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Dickin Medal for animals and birds

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The Dickin medal– the Victoria Cross for animals– being awarded in 1947 to two Australian pigeons.

The Victoria Cross for animals

The Dickin Medal, instituted by Mrs Maria Dickin, founder of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals in England, was popularly referred to as “the animals’ VC”. It was awarded to any animal displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty associated with, or under the control of, any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units during World War II and its aftermath.
At least two Australian carrier pigeons attached to the Australian Army have received the Dickin Medal:

134260Blue chequer cock No. 879:D/D: 43: Q Loft No. 5 of 1 Australian Pigeon Section, attached to the US forces, Manus Island, Admiralty Islands 5th April 1944. Awarded the Dickin Medal for gallantry carrying a message through heavy fire thereby bringing relief to a Patrol surrounded and attacked by the enemy without other means of communication.

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Tribute to the pigeons of world war two and their trainers. Australian pigeons in world war 2 saved Australia from invasion ,then receiving the highest military award for animals the Dickin medal.Equivalent to the Victoria cross, this award was given to the said animal for bravery.

Dickin Medal (The Victoria Cross for animals)

The Dickin Medal, a large bronze medallion, bears the words ‘For Gallantry’ and ‘We Also Serve’ — all within a laurel wreath. The ribbon is striped green, dark brown and pale blue representing water, earth and air to symbolise the naval, military, civil defence and air forces.

The medal was instituted in 1943 by Mrs Maria Dickin, founder of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals in England. It was awarded to any animal displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty associated with, or under the control of, any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units during World War 2 and its aftermath.

At least two Australian carrier pigeons attached to the Australian Army have received the Dickin Medal:

Source: Australian War Memorial Canberra, Australia  https://www.awm.gov.au/

An Outline Of Australian Racing Pigeon History

Pigeons are mostly known for picking around the streets and
parks, and causing havoc in the cities, however there is
another side to pigeons that many people do not know about.
This is the sport, hobby of racing and keeping pigeons.
This has been a large part of the European culture
for many years. However in Australia it has been in existence
since the gold rush days. Unknown, and not supported by
the wider community, many fanciers spend their spare time
in their lofts,or waiting for the return of birds from a race.

aust1930Photo: Pigeon Flyer the Late Edward (Ted) Boothman “Pigeoneer”
in the 1930’s Melbourne Australia
Coming out of his loft with clock in hand,
this clock is probably one of the first
Pigeon clocks used in Australia.

One of the first pigeon races to be held in Victoria that was documented and was held by,the Melbourne Pigeon and Canary Society. This race was held on the 22nd of July 1875 released from Kyneton at 11am,and returning to Port Melbourne at 12:20. Around this time Pigeon Clubs were formed, so there could be races that would encompass flyers from all areas. The races would be conducted with birds being released from distances from 80 kms to 950 kms. As of 1890’s it would be fair to state that clubs were either formed or being formed in most towns and cities of reasonable population.

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Photo: Pigeon Racing Fanciers Basketing
100 Years ago in V.H.A. Rooms in Richmond , Melbourne.

From the late 1890’s there was a publication called “Australian Fanciers Chronicle”which was produced fortnightly and included articles about pigeons, their types and breeds, dogs, canaries and poultry. Another source of advertising the upcoming races was local papers like the Ballaarat Star and the Ballarat Courier, which had several invitations for people to enter races and later published the results of these races. At this time pigeons were mainly transported to the race point via train. This alone would have been limiting for the release spots of the birds. The sport, racing of pigeons, had began in earnest by this time, this led to the importation of pigeons.
Some of the pigeon breeds of today were actually imported by people in the late 1880s. A good example of this would be Barkers; they were first imported between 1880-1887 by Mr S Hordern of Sydney. By 1896, pigeons were being imported from many world famous fanciers such as, Logan, Osman, Thoroughgood, Gits, grooter, and Janssens to name a few.

The first timing clock that was introduced to Australia was in Adelaide 1896; the inventor was a Mr John Hammar and Mr Clarke
a watchmaker of the time manufactured it. This meant better accuracy but also produced other problems like clock tampering.
The first fancier to be suspended for a period of 12 month from his club was Mr H Smith of South Australia Homing Club.
He was suspended for tampering with his clock, which was only two weeks after the introduction of the clocks.

Kilgower, Ian & Robert. Australian Pigeon Racing .Rigby Publishers: Melbourne, 1982, p. 16.

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Edward (Ted) Boothman – “Pigeoneer”

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From the “Australian Racing Pigeon” Magazine – Winter Edition 1979 – Volume 1 No. 2
© – 2015 – Internet distribution – Pigeon Media Australia all rights reserved – www.pigeonmedia.com.au


One Response to Australian Racing Pigeon History

  1. dancome says:

    Hello ~ Awesome content ~ Thank You

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