FANCIERS TO HONOR DICKIN MEDAL WINNING PADDY THE PIGEON
The E-Sylum (9/19/2010)
A pigeon from Northern Ireland which flew vital information from France after the D-Day landings will be commemorated with a re-enactment of his dangerous and historic flight later this month.
Dozens of pigeons will take to the sky to fly the same route as the famous pigeon who was the only Irish animal decorated for bravery during the Second World War.
Fanciers from the UK and Northern Ireland will be asked to release their birds, on a date still to be arranged, in France for a pigeon race that will in effect be a repeat of Paddy's trip back to his loft in Hampshire in the record time of 4 hours 50 minutes, 66 years ago.
The move is delighting people in Carnlough, where Paddy was born and bred and is still revered to this day, and where a plaque in his memory is on permanent display on a harbour wall.
Research is ongoing in an attempt to pinpoint the exact spot on the Normandy beaches where Paddy commenced his mission.
It is thought the pigeon flew from a place called Carentan in Normandy, but the exact route he took home will never be known.
In the meantime, there will be a Paddy Memorial Day in Larne Arts Centre on Friday September 24, organised by Jenny Caldwell, heritage officer of Larne Borough Council and the town historical society, along with Ballymena HPS.
It will be attended by ex-Irish Army officer Kevin Spring, a fancier who now owns Paddy's Dickin Medal for Bravery valued at around £10,000 which he will be showing off to guests.
Paddy, whose Dickin Medal is the animal world's equivalent of the Victoria Cross, came from the Moyleen loft of the late Carnlough fancier Andrew Hughes, who handed him over to the National Pigeon Service in which he was trained for his military career.