b. ? Dalton in Furnace, Cumbria. d. 1952 ?
DATE OF DM ACTION: 1942 Holland.
Tommy (NURP.41.DHZ.560) was a blue cock pigeon who was bred by William Brocklebank in Dalton in Furnace, Cumbria. He became a racing pigeon of high standard, winning several competitions. Tommy’s involvement in the Second World War and the eventual award of the Dickin Medal was due to an accidental meeting with a young Dutch pigeon enthusiast named Dick Drijver.
When German forces occupied Holland in 1941, all homing pigeons were ordered to be killed. Drijver had all his birds killed, but managed to save two named “Tijger” and “Amsterdammer” by switching them with two birds already dead. He joined the local resistance and the two birds were used to carry messages. He was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp, but managed to jump from the train and remained in hiding in Holland for the rest of the war.
Meanwhile, during a competition in Christchurch, Dorset, Tommy was blown off course and was found exhausted in a street in Holland by a postman. The postman knew Mr Drijver, and passed Tommy to him. Tommy was slowly nursed back to health but Drijver was not sure he would fly again. However, on 18th August 1942 the resistance received a message which had to be sent to British forces immediately. Sadly, both Tijger and Amsterdammer had been killed by a local cat, so the only hope was Tommy.
Despite his weak state, he was released with a message attached to his leg containing a secret message about the location of a munitions factory near Amsterdam. He reached Dalton in Cumbria, over 400 miles away, the next day but was badly injured with blood dripping from his breastbone. He was found by his breeder, Brocklebank, who immediately gave the message to the police. Two days later, following the information on the message, a broadcast was made on BBC Dutch Radio Service News that allowed the Dutch Resistance to learn that Tommy had succeeded.
Both Tommy and Mr Drijver survived the war, and they were reunited, when following the announcement of Tommy’s Dickin Medal in February 1946, for Tommy’s receipt of the medal from the Head of the Dutch Intelligence Service. Tommy had a peaceful retirement and died in 1952.
For delivering a valuable message from Holland to Lancashire under difficult conditions, while serving with NPS in July 1942.
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.