Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pigeons in Combat


Back in 2000, when I was trying to produce an hour-long weekly call-in radio program about birds (I had on-air help from my good friend Tim Winker, but did all the production work alone), I interviewed Colonel Jerome Pratt, the commander of the last Pigeon Company in the Army Signal Corps. It was a really cool interview--I don't sound very practiced as an interviewer, but despite my lack of skills, boy was he interesting! It's a 16-minute interview that I excerpted on a later Veterans' Day program. Anyway, I dug out the original interview a couple of weeks ago because a New York film producer named Alessandro Croseri googled the shorter version and wants to use a bit of it in a film he's producing about the Army Signal Corps pigeons. And he kindly sent me a DVD of The Flight, a lovely unnarrated 8-minute film which he describes this way:
“The Flight” is an homage to the bravery of homing pigeons who saved thousands of lives in combat in the Great World Wars. Their achievements embodied the attributes of service, endurance, loyalty and supreme courage. Here, their memory is evoked by two present-day homing pigeons silently taking flight from the windows of a New York City apartment. The film dissolves to a forgotten past as we relive their ancestors’ selfless heroism.
I got to watch the splendid little film today--it was lovely! I can't wait to see the documentary he's been working on, but that won't be for a while. He did tell me that Jerome Pratt died recently. We're losing so many of our living connections to history as far as the two World Wars go. I'm glad that in a very tiny way I was able to preserve some of one man's memories about an important time.

1 comment :

  1. I recall seeing a documentary a few years ago on PBS regarding the British use of homing pigeons to deliver encrypted messages during WWII.

    It was fascinating. Birds were given medals of distinction and there were actually "bird wars" with the Germans launching Peregrines to down the Pigeons.

    Can't remember the title!!!!

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