b. ? d. ?
DATE OF DM ACTION: 29/06/1943 Cologne, Germany.
The originally codenamed NURP.39.NRS.144 was bred in Nottingham by Mr W H Payne. On 29th June 1943, a night raid was planned for the city of Cologne with 608 aircraft. Aboard a Lancaster bomber on the runway at RAF Bottesford sat a crew of seven sergeants: Gates, Cayless, Mooney, Pike, Dolby, Copeland and Hole. Alongside these men was NURP.39.NRS.144. The pigeon had completed over 100 operational bombing missions. He had homed from diverted or forced landed aircraft from varying positions in Great Britain and Europe during both day and night.
During the actual bombing raid, the plane carrying NURP.39.NRS.144 lost radio contact. When the Lancaster did not return to RAF Bottesford, it was assumed it had been shot down or forced to land. There was no news of the aircraft for over two weeks. However, on 16th July 1943 the pigeon returned to the loft at RAF Bottesford in severe distress with a broken breastbone and other injuries. There was no message attached to his leg and it was impossible to start a search. For this flight of over 450 miles saw him awarded the Dickin Medal and was renamed “Cologne”.
Sadly, the fate of the crew was eventually discovered. Sergeants Gates, Cayless, Mooney, Copeland and Hole were all killed in the crash, whilst Pike and Dolby spent the rest of the war in a POW Camp.
For homing from a crashed aircraft over Cologne although seriously wounded, while serving with the RAF in 1943.
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.