I found myself, hunched back, propped up by a rake of hot water bottles and pillows, trawling the internet looking for story after story of carrier pigeons. I thought my intrigue couldn't be sated until I found this daft story about a pigeon called Cher Ami.
Cher Ami was a pigeon used in World War I. He's got his own Wikipedia page and seems to be quite the hero in American primary schools. I made this drawing of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Whittlesey and Cher Ami.
The following is the story of Cher Ami. I loved the register used in the website so much I'm just going to quote it here verbatim if you don't mind.
We are along the road parallel to 276.4.
Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us.
As Cher Ami tried to fly back home, the Germans saw him rising out of the brush and opened fire and for several minutes, bullets zipped through the air all around him. The men of the Lost Battalion saw Cher Ami tragically shot down, but miraculously, he was airborne again soon. He managed to arrive back at his loft at division headquarters 25 miles to the rear in just 25 minutes, helping to save the lives of the 194 survivors. In this last mission, Cher Ami had delivered the message despite having been shot through the breast, blinded in one eye, covered in blood, and with a leg hanging only by a tendon.
Cher Ami had become the hero of the 77th Infantry Division, so army medics worked long and hard to save his life. They were unable to save his leg, so they carved a small wooden one for him. When he recovered enough to travel, the little one-legged hero was put on a boat to the United States, with General John J. Pershing personally seeing Cher Ami off as he departed France.
Cher Ami died of his multiple war wounds on June 13, 1919--less than a year after he had completed his service to the United States Army Signal Corps. Upon his death a taxidermist preserved the small pigeon for future generations, a bird with a story that became an inspiration to millions over the years.