Belfast Telegraph

Medal owner hails pigeon who delivered news of successful D-Day landings

War mission: Paddy the pigeon
War mission: Paddy the pigeon

By Fiona Dillon

The valour of Paddy the Pigeon who flew nearly five hours to bring news of the successful D-Day landings has been remembered.

Paddy, who was bred in Carnlough, Co Antrim, was awarded the Dickin Medal - dubbed 'the animal's Victoria Cross' - for his gallantry.

Dublin businessman Kevin Spring, who bought the medal at auction from Whyte's in 1999, said that Paddy was bred in 1943, and went into training as a racing pigeon when he was a year old. He ended up being brought to Normandy by the Allied Forces 75 years ago, and was liberated with a number of other pigeons.

Paddy recorded a time of four hours, 50 minutes back to England with news of the success of the landings - an hour faster than the other pigeons who were liberated. He was the first pigeon to bring back the crucial information.

Mr Spring told RTE's News at One that he saw Whyte's had an advertisement about the medal prior to its auction. He kept a team of 24 racing pigeons, and had raced pigeons out of France.

"There were potential buyers from Australia, America and Hong Kong. So, I was sort of determined that it wasn't going to leave Ireland."

He said it was the only medal of its kind awarded in Ireland to a pigeon or an animal "so it was important that we keep it in Ireland".

"It wasn't bought as an investment as such. It was literally to keep it in the country. It was £6,900, which in today's terms is €8,700. It probably has a value today of approximately €30,000."

Meanwhile, the owner said it was not his intention to sell it or to auction it off. "I think the state might eventually get it. It might appear in Collins Barracks at some stage."

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