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A young person holding a badge in front of The Animals in War display.

Loan of Pigeon Service badge

By News

We’re very grateful to Stephen Glencross of the Carlisle Animals in War organisation for loaning the Museum this object.  It will go on display shortly with the Dickin Medal (currently on loan from the Royal Pigeon Racing Association) which can be seen in our First Floor Animals in War display.  Alastair Ritchie, one of the young people completing an SVQ in Museums and Galleries Practice at the Museum did a little research to find out more about this object, this is what he discovered…

National Pigeon Service badge.

The badge has the symbol of the NPS (National Pigeon Service) on it. This organisation was founded in 1938 by Major W.H.Osman to look after and continue to breed pigeons for use in military communication. As a result between 1939-1945 it supplied 200,000 to the RAF, British Army, Intelligence Service and the Special Section of Army Pigeon Service.

Including one called, Commando, a red chequer cock bird that became a recipient of the Dickin Medal for having flown more than ninety trips into and out of France all during the occupation, carrying confidential messages including the location of German troops, industrial sites and injured British soldiers.

(above Commando served 1939-1945)

The Official issue number on our badge is 15093 with silver plate and enamel.  Stephen Glencross told us it belonged to Mr Chamkin who was in the World War Two Signal Corps.

It is also engrained with J.R Grant London a company that sadly closed in 2016 after 71 years of business.





A Dickin Medal.

New Display at the Museum

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We’re very happy to have a Dickin Medal on display in the Museum for the next 6 months. This is one of only 3 on display in the country and one of only 71 Dickin Medals in existence. This particular medal was awarded to a pigeon called Dutch Coast, he was on board a Lancaster Bomber which went down in the North Sea in 1942. He flew 288 miles over 7 hours in terrible weather. He delivered his message and the lives of all the crew were saved as a result of is actions.

In 1943, Maria Dickin, the Founder of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (a charity known as the PDSA) created the Dickin Medal to honour the work done by animals in World War Two and to recognise their conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty. Since its introduction in 1943, the Dickin Medal has been awarded just 71 times: 31 dogs, 32 World War Two messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat have been awarded. We are very honoured to have the Dickin Medal here on loan to The Devils Porridge Museum from the Royal Pigeon Racing Association.

Animals have been used in war for thousands of years. Over 16 million animals served in the First World War. Cats and dogs were trained to hunt the giant rats that infested the trenches. By 1918, 8 million horses would lie dead in the mud, many next to soldiers they served with. The use of cavalry in war declined after World War One but animals remain an important part of the Armed Forces.

The War Memorial which we have outside the Museum was gifted to us by the Animals in War Group, Carlisle in 2015, as a lasting permanent reminder of the enormous sacrifice made by animals in war.

A group of people stood by the animals in war memorial outside The Devil's Porridge Museum.

Dickin Medal

By News

The Devils Porridge has a fantastic new item on loan – a Dickin Medal. The Dickin Medal was created by Maria Dickin, founder of the PDSA in 1943 to recognise the brave contributions made by Animals in War. It has been awarded just 71 times – 31 dogs, 32 World War Two messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat have been awarded. The medal is on loan from the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (the RPRA) and is one of only three medals they have loaned from their collection across the UK. The medal commemorates ‘Dutch Coast’ a pigeon who delivered an SOS from a ditched air crew in 1942. The pigeon covered 288 miles in 7.5 hours. The entire crew were rescued as a result of this action.

“The Museum has a memorial outside to commemorate Animals In War” said Judith Hewitt, Museum Manager, “and last year members of our Young Historians Club worked with the RPRA and the Carlisle Animals In War group to curate an exhibition about all the animals who also served. We are delighted to be able to bring this rare object to our region and to share it with our visitors. It will go on display within the next few weeks and will offer something different for everyone (especially animal lovers) to see.”

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