Tyke (pigeon)

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Tyke, also known as 'George' and carrying the service number 1263 MEPS 43, was a male Second World War homing pigeon who was awarded the Dickin Medal for gallantry in 1943 for delivering a message from a downed aircrew.[1] His medal was sold for £4,830 ($7,313) in July 2000.

Military service[edit]

Tyke was hatched in Cairo, Egypt, from British and South African parents, and was seconded into military service.[2] Bomber crews would carry homing pigeons in order to get word of their location back to home base should they be shot down.[3] In June 1943 the American bomber he was stationed on was shot down,[4] and Tyke was released in order to get help. He flew over a hundred miles in poor visibility, passing on the crew's call for help to friendly forces.[3] The bomber crew credited the pigeon with saving their lives.[2]

Tyke was awarded the Dickin Medal for his actions, an animal-only medal issued by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals. Tyke's citation reads, "For delivering a message under exceptionally difficult conditions and so contributing to the rescue of an Air Crew, while serving with the RAF in the Mediterranean in June, 1943."[1] He was one of the first pigeons to be awarded the Dickin Medal, along with White Vision and Winkie, who each received the award on 2 December 1943.[1]

Legacy[edit]

In July 2000, Tyke's Dickin Medal was auctioned by Spink Auction House in London. It was sold for the sum of £4,830 ($7,313) after receiving an initial top estimate of £3,500 ($5,299).[2] Fellow Dickin medallist Peter's medal was auctioned at the same event.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Pigeons In War". Royal Pigeon Racing Association. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "An Early Dickin Medal to the Homing Pigeon "Tyke" for Services in the Mediterranean Campaign in 1943". Christies. 27 July 2000. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Pigeons are the hidden heroes of war". Daily Post. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Judd, Terri (16 August 2000). "'Animal VC' will honour Gander's dash for grenade". The Independent. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  5. ^ "Hero animals' medals auctioned". BBC News. 27 July 2000. Retrieved 7 April 2012.