Haywards Heath war ‘hero’ pigeon commemorated

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A WW2 messenger pigeon is being commemorated with a plaque to recognise its achievements.

Haywards Heath Town Council has commissioned a blue plaque as a historical reminder of messenger pigeon Commando. 

Commando, bred in Haywards Heath, served the British Armed Forces during the Second World War, carrying crucial intelligence from agents in German occupied France to Britain.

Commando was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal for his war efforts and bravery, animal equivalent to the Victoria Cross. 

Pigeons were a vital part of the war effort, used when radio communications were too dangerous.

Many pigeons were unable to complete their mission, most falling victim to German marksmen, but others were the victim of bad weather, exhaustion, or birds of prey.

Commando, a red chequer pigeon, was bred in The Broadway, Haywards Heath by Mr Moon, who served with the Army Pigeon Service during WWI.

At the outbreak of WW2 he offered the services of his pigeons. 

Haywards Heath Town Council is showing its appreciation of the pigeon for his efforts during WW2 with the plaque which will be on the wall of Magda’s on Broadway, Mr Moon and Commando’s first home.

Haywards Heath Town Council thanks PDSA, Magda’s on The Broadway, Town Council staff and ward councillors who have worked together to make this possible. 

A spokesman said: “We hope as a Town Council that this will be the first of many blue plaques to be installed in our town to commemorate a link between a location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker. 

“Support for this initiative has been received from the Haywards Heath Society, Haywards Heath Town Team and owners of properties with historical interest.  As a town council we wish to preserve the history and heritage of our town and the adoption of a blue plaque scheme will help.”

Magda Duffy, owner of Magda’s, supports the project and has bought a framed photograph of Commando from the Imperial War Museum to display in her restaurant.

Madga said it is important to preserve the history of her restaurant.

Commenting on the news, PDSA Events & Heritage manager, Gill Hubbard, said: “We’re very pleased to hear that the birthplace of Commando the pigeon is to be recognised in this way.

“Members of the armed forces are, quite rightly, remembered and honoured for their contribution and sacrifice in times of conflict. At PDSA we honour the many animals that also serve: from carrier pigeons like Commando, to army dogs detecting arms and explosives in war zones.”