Pigeons Won Awards For Their Work In WWII

Apr 17, 2018 by Lisa Scarpa

We as humans have long been obsessed with seeing what we are unable to see, interested in the lives and possibilities we cannot or do not live. From X-Ray machines, all the way to following other people’s Instagram Accounts.

This is exactly how the 'original drone' was invented and I am not talking one that has batteries. In 1907, German apothecary, Dr. Julius Neubronner, invented what today we would call a drone but back then was simply a pigeon with a camera strapped on it. His invention came when he decided he’d like to follow his flock of pigeons on their travels. However, it grew more important than that. They are among some of the earliest pictures taken of earth, others being taken with balloons or kites at the time. Within a few years, his photos won multiple awards and began being sold on postcards.

Later, Neubronner’s invention became of interest to a Swiss clockmaker who developed it further. It then became aware to the CIA, that they could use this as an espionage tool, however no one knows if or what they were used for and the information remains classified. Then came the “war pigeons” in WWI and WWII that were in use. Also a subject that the public knows little about why they were used and what content was received from them. However, these pigeons were so widely used and appriciated that over 32 pigeons recieved awards of achievement. The U.S. military used pigeons until 1957, long enough for pigeon-based equipment to be given its own communications system designation, known as AN/CBQ-1 for the "Air-transportable Pigeon Loft & Message Center." 

Though, pigeons are no longer used in the U.S., they are still used in some countries today. Watch out what you do or say infront of a pigeon, someone might be watching! 



Photo Credits: Julius Neubronner Pigeon Fleet 

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