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Thursday 22 August 2019

Paddy the Pigeon D-Day bravery is recalled

Paddy the pigeon
Paddy the pigeon
Fiona Dillon

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 animals' Victoria Cross", for his gallantry.

Dublin businessman Kevin Spring, who bought the medal at auction from Whyte's in 1999, said 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 released along 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 birds.

Mr Spring told RTÉ's 'News at One' that he saw Whyte's had an advertisement in the newspapers about the medal prior to it being auctioned. He kept a team of 24 racing pigeons and had raced birds 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," Mr Spring said.

He added that 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," Mr Spring said.

"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."

Mr Spring said it was not his intention to sell the medal or to auction it off.

"I think the State might eventually get it. It might appear in Collins Barracks at some stage," he said.

Irish Independent

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