World War I Carrier Pigeon’s Message Found Over 100 Years After Intended Delivery

by Kayla Zadel
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History has a way of repeating itself, and messages from the past are often brought to the present. Take this World War I note for example.

This time a carrier pigeon’s message is coming to light after its redirection for more than 100 years. According to CNN, the note was found in mid-September in northeastern France by a couple that was out hiking. The message was sent in 1910 by a German military officer to another.

The area was still part of Germany, according to Dominique Jardy, curator of the nearby Linge Memorial museum. The curator says the script is difficult to translate. This is primarily due to being folded up inside a small aluminum capsule for all those years. Jardy asked a German friend to translate the message.

The note reads, “Platoon Potthof receives fire as they reach the western border of the parade ground, platoon Potthof takes up fire and retreats after a while.”

According to the AFP news agency, the message continues with, “In Fechtwald half a platoon was disabled. Platoon Potthof retreats with heavy losses.”

Meaning of the World War II Message

Jardy continues to explain that the losses are just an estimate. Furthermore, these estimates are based on war games, rather than the actual deaths. As a matter of fact, this is common practice during military exercises.

Since there is some difficulty when it comes to reading the note, the post-marked year is up in the air. There’s been some debate about whether the message was sent in 1910, or rather in 1916.

The museum curator strongly believes that the note is something that the military would be sending in 1910. He’s not aware of any military movement around Colmar in 1916. He backs this up with the knowledge of certain terms specific to military exercises rather than warfare.

According to Jarfy, artifacts like the carrier pigeons use to transport is a rare finding, even today. He even says, “It’s really very, very, very rare. It’s really exceptional.”

The message is on display at the Linge Memorial museum. The museum tells the history of the French and German battles in 1915.

France ceded Ingersheim, plus the area surrounding it in 1871 to Germany. This came after the Franco-German war. However, the territory changed ownership again in 1918 with the Allied victory in World War I.

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