William of Orange (Pigeon)

William of Orange (Pigeon)

William of Orange was a male pigeon soldier of MI14 (British secret service). He was awarded the 21st Dickin Medal for delivering a message from the Arnhem Airborne Operation. This message saved more than 2000 soldiers combined at the time of the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944. Its official name in military record is NPS.42.NS.15125. He received the medal in May 1945. [cite web |url=http://www.pdsa.org.uk/page309_3.html |title=Record of Dickin Medal recipients |publisher=People's Dispensary for Sick Animals |date=2008-01-09 |accessdate=2008-07-15]

Communications in that battle were a problem for the Allied units; German troops had surrounded the airborne forces and the few radio sets present malfunctioned. William of Orange was released by British soldiers at 10:30 on September 19, 1944 and arrived at his nest box in England at 14:55. He flew over 250 miles and the message he carried was one of few to make their way back to United Kingdom.

William of Orange was bred by Sir William Proctor Smith of Cheshire and trained by the Army Pigeon Service of the Royal Signals. Smith bought him out of service for £185 and ten years later reported that William was "the grandfather of many outstanding racing pigeons". [cite web |url=http://www2.army.mod.uk/royalsignalsmuseum/relatedsites/recent_articles.htm |title=How pigeon William of Orange won the animal VC |date=2004-08-08 |accessdate=2008-07-15]


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