WW1 Carrier Pigeon Delivers Message 110 Years Too Late

A discovery to mark Armistice day on November 11 like no other. An “incredibly rare” find of a military message, presumably from a lost carrier pigeon has been discovered in Alsace, France.

The message was found in a small metal cylinder in the fields near Ingersheim, in eastern France, by Jade Halaoui, who was out walking with his partner. He told a local paper, Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace, that he dug it out from the undergrowth after it caught his eye. It measures only 5cm in length and the chances of seeing it would have been next to none.

They examined the spidery handwriting but the writing had a gothic feel and they needed to take it to an expert, which they did at Linge Memorial Museum in Orbey, where it was analysed by experts. The message is dated July 16 but could be from 1910 or 1916, as the year is difficult to read.

Dominique Jardy, curator of the Linge museum, told The New York Times that he believes it was 1910, before war broke out because the information in the small note refers to a training ground and to an “adversary” rather than an enemy. “It’s a little report on a battle simulation,” he said.

It appears to be written by a Prussian infantry officer about military drills and manoeuvres around Ingersheim when Alsace was under German control.

Carrier pigeons were used frequently during World War 1 and Jardy added that several pigeons were usually sent with the same message to ensure that the intended recipient received the message. It might have fallen off the bird’s leg while it was in the air.

The Linge museum commemorates the history of the battle which was waged on the Linge hilltop in the Vosges mountains. In 1915, approximately 17,000 soldiers died as French troops tried to advance towards the city of Colmar.

Alsace has changed hands between the French and Germans for centuries. At the end of the Franco-Prussian war it was annexed to Germany; went to France under the Treaty of Versailles after World War 1 and was occupied by Nazi forces during World War II.

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