Most of us will know about the gallant sacrifices of the humans who took part in the D-Day landings. But only a few of us will be aware of the fact that on some air drops soldiers were accompanied by dogs and pigeons.
By Published on 7 Jun 2019
It seems only right that today, 75 years after ‘D+1’, we should salute the avian and canine heroes of the conflict, and remember the part they played in helping Allied soldiers to accomplish their missions in the early days of the invasion of France.
Notably a dog called Bing was one of the first to be dropped behind enemy lines on the 6th June 1944. He accompanied a stick of 13th Lancashire Parachutists on their drop into the Nazi stronghold of Ranville; within spitting distance of the Pegasus Bridge.
Bravery in the field of conflict
Bing became entangled in a tree on his way down but was cut free by his handler Sgt. Ken Bailey under heavy fire from enemy troops.
Bing jumped again during Operation Varsity along with almost 17,000 Allied soldiers. They arrived in occupied Germany during the last big push of 1945.
After the war Bing was reunited with his family. In March of 1947 he received the Dickin Medal for his service in the field of battle. The Dickin Medal is an award to honour the work of animals in World War II.
Another animal vital to the war effort was the carrier pigeon. Pigeons were used extensively in WW1 due to the infancy of communication equipment.
But in WW2 the birds proved just as useful to the war effort.
Days before D-Day, a pigeon called the Duke of Normandy joined paratroopers from the 21st Army Group in their drop over Merville in north-eastern France. Despite the Brits making regular interceptions of Nazi communications after cracking the Enigma code, the Duke was drafted in to send word of progress to the Allies' headquarters in London.
‘His journey home took 27 hours and he flew through bullets and bombs,’ Ms Dickin said, according to the Metro. ‘There was a northerly gale and driving rain as he made his way back.’
The Duke’s heroic journey brought critical intelligence to Allied Command and saved many lives. He too was awarded the Dicken Medal in 1947.