Cher Ami

Pet type: Bird

Died: 13 Jun 1919

Owner: United States Army


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While not strictly a pet, Cher Ami was a pigeon who played a vital role in saving the lives of American soldiers during World War One and so her story is worthy of telling again here.

Cher Ami - which is French for 'dear friend' - was one of hundreds of homing pigeons used to fly messages by the United States Army Signal Corps in France during World War One. Her name included the masculine form of the word Friend and led to many people mistakenly thinking she was male. She was donated by British pigeon fanciers but served with the Americans.

She won her place in the history books, and has become the subject of books and poems, for continuing to fly even though she'd been seriously injured by enemy fire.

Because of her bravery, military medics spent a long time battling to save her life and succeeded - even though Cher Ami lost one of her legs.

She was taken back to America after surgery where she was awarded the Croix de Guerre Medal with a palm Oak Leaf Cluster for her heroic service in delivering 12 important messages in Verdun.

Sadly she died less than a year later at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, on June 13, 1919.

Shee was posthumously inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931. She was also honoured by the Organised Bodies of American Racing Pigeon Fanciers.

Most accounts credit Cher Ami with saving the lives of almost 200 soldiers from the 77th Infantry Division, who earned the nickname the Lost Battalion after they spent six days trapped in a hollow in the Argonne Forest.

Under the command of Major Charles Whittlesey the men were surrounded by Germans but also coming under "friendly fire" from the Allied forces who did not know their position. Major Whittlesey sent two pigeons with messages attached to their legs telling their allies where they were - but both birds were shot down.

It is then said that he sent Cher Ami - on October 4, 1918 - who was also shot by the Germans but miraculously still made it back to her pigeon loft at division headquarters some 25 miles away in just 65 minutes. She was found there with a bullet hole in her breast, and an injured eye. One of her legs was virtually severed and hanging by just a tendon. But her vital message was delivered and more than 190 soldiers who had survived were rescued.

Although this story is the most often-recounted there is another version which claims that Cher Ami received her terrible injuries flying a later mission on or about October 27, 1918 when the 77th infantry division crossed the Meuse River and broke through enemy lines.

Regardless of when her injuries happened, we know that Cher Ami received many honours for flying some 12 vital missions and that following her death her little one-legged body was stuffed and is still on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History along with Stubby - a hero American dog who went to the trenches of France in World War One.

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Pet type: Bird

Died: 13 Jun 1919

Owner: United States Army


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Pet type: Bird

Died: 13 Jun 1919

Owner: United States Army


Gifts for Cher Ami

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Pet type: Bird

Died: 13 Jun 1919

Owner: United States Army


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