Pigeons help commemorate ANZAC day at John Willcock College

Posted on: Monday, 18 April 2016 at 10:16:00 AM

Returned serviceman Ian Heberle releases birds at the John Willcock College ANZAC commemoration.Animals in service were the focus of John Willcock Colleges ANZAC day commemorations this year.

Local returned serviceman and pigeon keeper Ian Heberle spoke to the full school assembly about the important role animals make during wartime before the formal ANZAC service which included a pigeon release.

“Animals were involved in the war in many ways in the first world war horses were used to drag cannons around and in the second world war pigeons were very important for sending messages, Mr Heberle said.

“Pilots used to carry pigeons in their vests and when they were shot down they could send a message to the loft where the wireless operators were and they would radio home their location,” he said.

Mr Heberle shared his knowledge about the Dicken Medal which is also known as the Victoria Cross for animals. “In today’s paper you can see the most recent recipient of a Dicken Medal a German Shepard who served in the United States Marine Corps,” he said.

The Dicken Medal was established 1943 to honour three pigeons who each delivered messages that contributed the rescue of ditched aircrew from separate incidents.

Since that time it has been awarded to a total of 32 pigeons, 29 dogs, four horses and a cat.

The students were in awe of the birds, which on release circled the oval a couple of times to get a sense of direction before heading home.

John Willcock College Principal Julie Campbell said the pigeon release helped make this years service extra memorable.

“We are very lucky to be well supported by the community, it was a great treat to have Ian attend the assembly to show the students his birds and share this unique perspective on ANZAC day.” She said.

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John Willcock College  |  Phone 9965 8300  |  Fax 9921 8590  |  Postal Address PMB 102 Geraldton WA 6530  |  Email: info.jwc@education.wa.edu.au