Wednesday, February 17, 2016

World War II-Operation Gibbon-secret pigeon service in Belgium

(c) Crown copyright images reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, UK
Catalog numbers HS6/92 #01, #38

Operation Gibbon was a Special Operations Executive (SOE) operation to set up a pigeon service in Belgium.  The Germans had killed or confiscated the Belgians’ pigeons.  In The Animals’ VC, David Long writes, “Operation Gibbon in 1942 was typical of the kind of work many pigeons undertook, a flight over Belgium on the behalf of the Political War Executive to establish and organise a secret new carrier pigeon communications network in that country.”  Below is one of the messages delivered by a pigeon.  The translation by P. Franckel follows.

Pigeon message arrived 4.11.43 from Carol.
1) Your message hardly readable STOP Well received - transmitting.
2) Place on each pigeon 2 containers without an internal pivot.
3) The next written message confirms your wishes.
4) Send 3 pistols of small calibre and ammunition.
5) Send maximum package but also explosives, weapons and bicycle tires STOP Our friends will reclaim them.
6) Films have a huge effect on morale and circulate well - send more.
7) Note that if the principal landing is impractical the men will be at the southern point of the Ronge woods, or 1000 meters to the east of the Chapel de Belle. STOP.  See Cartereux Carre de Manage.  (this could be an address)
8) Contact the saboteurs via Jules College Omatrea Waterloo STOP
 Password " I would like to eat drink and smoke" STOP
 Send material and instructions announcing "sent by radio, by Christiane - "here are the roses that I described"."
The eventual message placement will be to the east of the king's house to the south of the Waterloo lion.”

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