Pigeon Mail

Students learn about a carrier pigeon that saved the lives of 194 men by successfully delivering a soldier’s desperate message. 

Carrier pigeon ready to be released to carry a long distance message.(external link)

Carrier pigeon ready to be released to carry a long distance message. http://bit.ly/1wIIlh6


Carrier pigeons played an important role in the First World War. They were used to carry messages between troops. One of the most famous pigeons was Cher Ami, a carrier pigeon used by the American troops. A soldier from the “Lost Battalion” used Cher Ami to send this message to the headquarters of the 308th infantry: “We are along the road paralell [sic] 276.4. Our artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heavens sake stop it.” While carrying this desperate message, Cher Ami was shot through the breast by the enemy and blinded in one eye. When he reached his loft, the message capsule was dangling from a broken leg. The successful delivery of the message saved the lives of 194 men. Cher Ami died in 1919. 

Key questions 

  • What can we observe? 
  • What do we already know? 
  • How might people view these artefacts in different ways? 

Possible discussion questions: 

  • Why did the soldier send this message? 
  • How do you think he was feeling when he wrote it? 
  • Why did the soldier use a bird to send his message? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this method? 
  • What do these images make you think about?
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