Today is ANZAC Day here in Australia and I have been reading books to share with my classes. I have decided to focus on winners of the Dickin Medal and in particular pigeons. We have two splendid books which look at the war service of pigeons. Lofty's Mission and Flapper, VC.
There are extensive notes at the end of this book and I have now done a lot of reading. The Dickin Medal began in 1943 and is named after Maria Dickin. It has now been awarded 67 times to 32 pigeons, 31 dogs, 4 horses and one cat. The cat was called Simon and you can read more here.
The PDSA Dickin Medal is a large, bronze medallion bearing the words “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve” all within a laurel wreath. The ribbon is striped green, dark brown and sky blue representing water, earth and air to symbolise the naval, land and air forces.
Lofty's Mission begins with the lines "No, Dad! Please don't take Lofty. I bred him to be a champion racer!' Tears trickled down Harley's cheeks." Dad explains Lofty, or Number 371, is needed for war service in New Guinea. Lofty is taken to the jungle and given training. He is wounded but safely delivers his message across the battle lines. Meanwhile little Harley contracts polio. One day a parcel arrives containing the Dickin Medal. Lofty is a hero. The ending of the book is so joyous as Lofty returns to his family in Australia and we see his son Nifty take flight.
Lofty's Mission has amazing paper sculpture illustrations by the talented David Miller.
Flapper, VC also explores the story of a brave Pigeon.
"Flapper, VC was inspired by the true story of Australian carrier pigeon D D43 Q879, who was awarded the Dickin Medal for 'Conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty'. It is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery."
Here are the teachers notes for Flapper, VC and Lofty's Mission. You might also enjoy the movie Valiant.