Carrier Pigeon 'GI Joe'

APO 464


16 November 1943


SUBJECT: Outstanding Performance of Carrier Pigeon

TO: Commanding General, NATOUSA, APO 534, U.S. Army (Through Channels)


1. Request that the below listed story, along with picture, be sent to Washington, D.C. for release by the War Department, to newspapers for publication.

"Making what is believed the most outstanding flight yet made by a Homing Pigeon during World War II, a blue check splashed cock named "GI Joe", and banded USA-43-SC 6390, came through from the British 10th Corps Headquarters with a message that probably saved the lives of at least 100 Allied soldiers. This story is a result of the 56th Infantry Division having made a request for Air Support to aid in the breaking of the German defense line at the heavily fortified village of Colvi Vecchia, Italy, the morning of 18 October 1943. The message contained information that the British 169th Infantry Brigade, of the 56th Infantry Division, had captured the village of Colvi Vecchia at 10:45 hours just a few minutes before a unit of the Allied XII Air Support Command was due to bomb the town. The pigeon made the trip of some twenty odd miles, from the 10th Corps Headquarters, in the same number of minutes. The message arrived just as the planes were preparing to take off for the target; had the message arrived five minutes later it might have been a completely different story.

"GI Joe" was hatched in March 1943 at the Breeding section, then in Algiers, Algeria, and was taken to the Tunisian front for duty on May 1, 1943, but due to being a bit young and due to the fact that the campaign ended he was unable to be used on many missions. After the Tunisian campaign he was moved to Bizerte, Tunisia, where he remained until being moved, with many of his comrades, to the Italian Front for duty on 6 October 1943. "GI Joe's" parents were brought from the United States by members of the 6681st Signal Pigeon Company, and were landed at Safi, French Morocco the morning of 18 November 1943. On his most important mission he was under the supervision of his two friends, Pigeoneers S/Sergeant Robert Steinhaus of Merrill, Wisconsin and T/5 Elroy Rausch of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If "GI Joe" is living after this war he will be returned to the birthplace of his parents, there to live at Camp Crowder, Missouri as a honored hero of this second world conflict, and a veteran of two major campaigns."

/s/ Winton T. Prater
1st Lt., Signal Corps,


[Source: TNA WO 204/2930, transcribed by]