They Fought Too
Animals in Combat

 

Persistent pigeon:

Cher Ami was a pigeon in the service of the United States Army Signal Corps during WWI. In 1918, the American 77th Infantry Division, under the command of Charles Whittlesey, was isolated and pinned down in France by German shelling. The Division was also endangered by well-intentioned American friendly fire. They had to alert allied forces to their position or face certain death.

They sent three of their four courier pigeons with urgent messages of distress and heard nothing further from them. To their last pigeon, Cher Ami, (which means "dear friend") they attached a final plea for help. The Germans saw Cher Ami as he rose from the American position and began firing on the bird. Cher Ami was hit twice in the breast and one of his legs was shattered, but the bird flew on.

Cher Ami flew 25 miles in less than 30 minuets and got the 77th Infantry Division's message back to allied forces. That bird saved the lives of the 77th Infantry Division's remaining 194 men. Cher Ami was awarded numerous medals for valor and became an international hero. The press celebrated him. The bird was escorted back to America by the commander of the U.S. Army, General Pershing. Cher Ami lived on for several years with bullet holes in his breast and only one leg. The pigeon that beat the odds was stuffed upon death and now stands defiantly in the Smithsonian Museum.

 

Cher Ami
by Harry Webb Farrington

 

Cher Ami, how do you do!
Listen, let me talk to you;
I'll not hurt you, don't you see?
Come a little close to me.

Little scrawny blue and white
Messenger for men who fight,
Tell me of the deep, red scar,
There, just where no feathers are.

What about your poor left leg?
Tell me, Cher Ami, I beg.
Boys and girls are at a loss,
How you won that Silver Cross.

"The finest fun that came to me
Was when I went with Whittlesey;
We marched so fast, so far ahead!
'We all are lost,' the keeper said;

'Mon Cher Ami-- that's my dear friend--
You are the one we'll have to send;
The whole battalion now is lost,
And you must win at any cost.'

So with the message tied on tight;
I flew up straight with all my might,
Before I got up high enough,
Those watchfull guns began to puff.

Machine-gun bullets came like rain,
You'd think I was an aeroplane;
And when I started to the rear,
My! the shot was coming near!

But on I flew, straight as a bee;
The wind could not catch up with me,
Until I dropped out of the air,
Into our own men's camp, so there!"

But, Cher Ami, upon my word,
You modest, modest little bird;
Now don't you know that you forgot?
Tell how your breast and leg were shot.

"Oh, yes, the day we crossed the Meuse,
I flew to Rampont with the news;
Again the bullets came like hail,
I thought for sure that I should fail.

The bullets buzzed by like a bee,
So close, it almost frightened me;
One struck the feathers of this sail,
Another went right through my tail.

But when I got back to the rear,
I found they hit me, here and here;
But that is nothing, never mind;
Old Poilu , there is nearly blind.

I only care for what they said,
For when they saw the way I bled,
And found in front a swollen lump,
The message hanging from this stump;

The French and Mine said, 'Tres bien,'
Or 'Very good'--American.
'Mon Cher Ami , you brought good news;
Our Army's gone across the Meuse!

You surely had a lucky call!
And so I'm glad.  I guess that's all.
I'll sit, so pardon me, I beg;
It's hard a-standing on one leg!"

 

Sources: Home of Heroes, Beth Gillin.

 

 

 

 

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