Number of pigeons dropped before D-Day

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by jenniferspangler, Sep 21, 2015.

  1. D-Day—number of pigeons dropped to gather intelligence before D-Day, May 1944
    (c) Crown copyright images reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, UK
    WO208/3556 #004
    This report gives the numbers of pigeons dispatched in the month before D-Day as part of Operation Columba. The British created Operation Columba to gather intelligence on the Germans in occupied France, Holland, and Belgium. 17,000 pigeons were dropped from British planes in baskets or boxes attached to small parachutes between 1941-45.

    The Imperial War Museum has interviews with 2 men who flew on the pigeon drops. To hear Frank Griffiths on reel 2, click on this link:
    To hear John Charrot on reel 2, click on this link:

    There is a full page image of the document at:

    Attached Files:

    brithm and dbf like this.
  2. I posted a couple of other Columba summaries which pertain to D-Day at:

    One is:
    D-Day-1944 Report on Allied Use of Pigeons to Gather Intelligence Before Invasion

    This post includes Columba Summary #12 for the first 6 months of 1944.

    Points in the summary:

    Returns were low but considered critical during the pre-invasion period;

    4424 pigeons were dropped by parachute;

    Operation Columba provided the first intimation of “order of battle” news considered important to SHAEF regarding German troop movements;

    5 reports gave the first news of military underground works;

    Names of collaborators were sent to SHAEF, per their request;

    After the invasion began the Germans offered big rewards for the capture of Allied pigeons;

    In Denmark, pigeon owners were given the choice of killing their pigeons or turning them over to the Wehrmacht.

    The other is:
    Operation Columba Plans for Invasion of the Continent

    This is Columba Summary #11 1943. It covers plans for pigeons during the invasion of the continent. When a bridgehead was established, training of pigeons would begin locally. Mobile pigeon sections would each hold 720 pigeons. The pigeons would be available for all requirements in the theatre of operations. A reserve of 1400 pigeons would be held in Britain to replenish mobile pigeon section lofts.
    Some other points in this summary:
    Civilian loft owners were commended for their willingness to give their best pigeons to the Special Pigeon Service,
    Improved cardboard containers to hold the pigeons when they were dropped by parachute into occupied Europe increased the number of pigeons who returned with messages,
    Accuracy of dropping the pigeons was developed into a fine art by the special R.A.F. Squadrons,
    Monthly output of pigeons dropped was increased from 500 to approximately 1000; these pigeons were needed to gather information on German anti-invasion preparations in the west.
    Also included in this summary are statements on the value of the Special Pigeon Service by Jonathan Griffin, European Intelligence Director at the B.B.C., Air Intelligence, Major R.I. Dobson of S.O.E., and P.I.D.

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