The secret pigeon service: Heroes who risked all for the birds dropped behind enemy lines who flew home with vital intelligence and left the Nazis flapping
Enemy searchlights had caught its outline as the RAF Whitley reached Nieuport on the coast of Nazi-occupied Belgium, and the German batteries opened up. But unscathed, the pilots pressed on, heading inland as instructed.
Just minutes later, passing above the darkened fields of Flanders, the crucial moment had arrived. The flaps of the aircraft were lowered and, from a height of between 600 and 1,000ft, a British ‘agent’ parachuted gently to the ground.
This was July 1941, and an extraordinary new development in the intelligence war with the Wehrmacht was in full swing. So important was the information gleaned from this particular mission, it would end up on Churchill’s desk.
A member of a Royal Air Force aircrew holding a carrier pigeon taking part in Operation Columba beside a Lockheed Hudson of Coastal Command around 1942