Topic: British Army
Carrier Pigeon Service (1897)
Blasts from the Trumpet
The Quebec Daily Telegraph, 13 March 1897
Following in the footsteps of all the other European governments, England has arranged for the use of carrier pigeons in the army. In time of war it is urged that these swift couriers of the air can be used when railway, telegraph, messengers and other usual means are cut off, and pigeon lofts will be established at suitable places where they will prove most effective.
In the beginning England will have but few birds, but more will be added as time and money will permit. Germany has the most complete carrier-pigeon service of any country in the world. There is hardly a town of any importance in the German Empire that hasn't a pigeon loft, and the German Emperor annually distributes numerous prizes for long and rapid flights. The annual appropriation for the pigeons is about $6,000. France has more birds than Germany and spends $20,000 a year in maintaining them, but they are not so well distributed.
There are scores of private lofts in Germany that will be in the service of the Government in time of need. France learned the value of pigeons during the siege of Paris, when they were used to convey messages to the seat of government at Tours. Nearly fifty messages were successfully despatched during the siege, and since then the value of the pigeons has not been questioned. It seems that carrier pigeons are not able to make the speed that is popularly supposed. German experts say that the average pigeon can fly thirty-five miles an hour and not more.