WW II homing pigeons served far from York County home
More than humans and pets went to Europe and the Pacific in World War II.
Backup communications was for the birds.
According to “In the Thick of the Fight,” the U.S. Army Signal Corps put out a call for homing pigeons, early in the war:
The corps asked the six or more York County pigeon clubs to inventory how many of the county’s 6,000 homing birds would be available for military service.
The military considered pigeons an important part of war communication, when other means of sending messages had broken down. The corps also cautioned the clubs about foreign agents intercepting the birds… .
John P. Bailey of York spent most of the war training homing pigeons to operate in a battle zone and teaching infantrymen how to handle them. Later in the war, the sergeant operated pigeon communications on an island in the Philippines with success, even saving a band of Filipino guerrillas trapped by the enemy.
Bailey wrote to the York Homing Pigeon Club that a Japanese sniper took a pot shot at the pigeons. The bullet severed two toes of a cadet bird.
But the birds faced a bigger foe. The Philippines were full of hawks.