Winkie DM

b. ? Scotland. d. ? Broughty Ferry, Scotland.

DATE OF DM ACTION: 23/02/1942 North Sea.

Winkie DM

Winkie (aka NEHU.40.NS.1) was a blue chequered hen, bred by Mr A.R. Colley, and was trained by the National Pigeon Service in World War II.

During World War II, Winkie was aboard a British Bristol Beaufort when it crashed in the North Sea on 23 February 1942 as a result of being badly damaged by enemy fire following a mission to Norway. Struggling in the freezing waters, the crew remembered one piece of vital equipment, a blue chequered hen, number NEHU 40 NSL. It was a long shot, but she was their only chance as the crew did not have time to radio an accurate position before ditching.

Winkie was set free and flew 120 miles home to Broughty Ferry, where her owner, George Ross discovered the exhausted pigeon. He alerted the airbase at RAF Leuchars in Fife, and a search and rescue mission was launched.

Using the time difference from the plane ditching to the arrival of the pigeon in the loft, and taking into account the wind direction and the inhibition to her flight speed caused by oil spoilage to her feathers, the RAF were able to approximate where the plane ditched. Within 15 minutes the crew’s position had been located and a rescue vessel dispatched. On 2 December 1943, Winkie was awarded the Dickin Medal.

Winkie received her medal from Maria Dickin in March 1943. The crew were rescued and later held a dinner for Winkie, who basked in her cage as she was toasted by the officers. She was given the name Winkie, due to her constant blinking in one eye following the rescue. When Winkie died, Ross donated her and her Dickin Medal to Dundee Art Galleries and Museums.



For delivering a message under exceptionally difficult conditions and so contributing to the rescue of an aircrew while serving with the RAF in February 1942.