Mary of Exeter
Mary of Exeter was a carrier pigeon who flew many military missions with the National Pigeon Service during World War II, transporting important messages across the English Channel back to her loft in Exeter, England. She was awarded the Dickin Medal in November 1945 for showing endurance on war service despite being injured on three occasions and emerging uninjured when her loft was bombed.
Mary of Exeter was owned by Charlie Brewer, a cobbler from Exeter. She served with the National Pigeon Service between 1940 and 1945 carrying top secret messages. Mary made four trips from France to England.
Mary completed many missions, including three in which she was wounded by enemy attacks, requiring a total of 22 stitches. In addition, she survived a Luftwaffe bomber attack on her Exeter pigeon loft.
Attacked by German war hawk
On one occasion she was attacked by German-kept hawks stationed in Pas-de-Calais returning home with wounds to her neck and right breast. She recovered sufficiently and was put back in service two months later.
On another occasion, Mary returned with the tip of one wing shot off and three pellets were removed from her body. She recovered, passed flight tests, was returned to service despite the shortened wing.
Hit by shrapnel
Exeter pigeon loft bombed
Mary's loft, located at the Exeter home of a shoemaker named Charlie Brewer who had become a loft keeper and intelligence agent during the war, was damaged during the Luftwaffe's 1942 raids on Exeter, killing many of the pigeons housed there. Mary, however, survived.
Exeter Civic Society Blue Plaque
A blue plaque was unveiled at 6 West Street, Exeter, EX1 1BA, the site of Charlie Brewer’s home and shoemaker’s shop for 63 years. His pigeon loft was also at these premises. The unveiling took place on 20 January 2018, followed by a celebration and refreshments at the nearby Picturehouse Cinema.    
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