On the build up to remembrance day we are bringing you stories of unsung heroes from the Great War to remember those from both the front line as well as those back home.
Cher Ami, was part of the Allied forces and she saved 194 men from friendly fire, she was also a pigeon. War pigeons were very popular during WWI. They were extremely helpful in sending messages from some of the most remote areas of the Western Front as they could go virtually undetected through enemy territory and they were extremely reliable.
When Germans caught wind about what was going on with pigeon they started to shoot down every pigeon that they saw. On October 13 1918, Major Charles Whittlesey and 194 of his men found themselves encircled by the enemy in a small valley on the side of a hill. To make matters worse, allied forces assumed that the group were another regiment of German soldiers and began friendly firing on the group.
There were many attempts by the Major to send carrier pigeons to their base to stop the fire and to rescue the group who were on a path of imminent death. Some of the messages that were shot down read “men are suffering. Can support be sent?’ , another wrote ‘Many wounded. We cannot evacuate’ and a third bird contained the wrong coordinates which resulted in their supposed rescuers attacking them instead.
Cher Ami was their last hope and Whittlesey wrote “we are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heavens sake stop it” on a piece of onion paper and sent the pigeon on her way.
Germans immediately noticed her and fired at her until she fell to the ground with wounds through her breast and one eye blinded. Cher Ami did not give up and took flight once more. After twenty five minutes of flying she delivered the message which effectively saved the lives of all 195 men.
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