The First Animal To Receive Prestigious British Award Is A Heroic Pigeon

A pigeon is the first animal to win the English Heritage Blue Plaque. It is an honor that was always reserved to honor people and places that have helped shaped Britain’s history.

Mary was a homing pigeon who delivered top-secret messages during World War II. She was the first animal to be given the plaque to commemorate where she lived. Her time with the National Pigeon Service helped earn her the honor after she was dropped behind enemy lines a number of times. She delivered secrets across the English Channel to her home.

The heroic pigeon’s time in the service did not leave her without suffering any harmful injuries. German hawks attacked her, but she managed to escape. However, she returned home with a number of wounds to her head and neck. Mary was taken out of service for two months so she could recover.


On her second flight, she had the tip of her wing shot off and multiple pellets hit her. Mary was taken out of service again to recover. This pigeon could handle anything that came her way and she did. During her final trip, she took on shrapnel that damaged her neck muscles. Her owner pigeon breeder Cecil "Charlie" Brewer took her out of service for good after that.

Along with being the first animal to win the English Heritage Blue Plaque, Mary also earned the Dickin Medal in 1945. The medal is given to the hardest working animals during wartime, an honor that the pigeon was definitely worthy of.

Exeter Civic Society unveiled the plague at Brewer’s home and shoemaker shop. He was bestowed the honor as well for his time training war pigeons. Brewer was a special constable in 1941 with responsibility for general control of war pigeons.

This was also the first time ever that an animal and it’s owner were awarded the plaque together. The plague is as much about the buildings where the people and animals lived or worked as it is about the subjects being commemorated.

Mary passed away in 1950 and is buried in the PDSA Pet Cemetery in Ilford, Essex. Brewer passed in 1985 at the age of 90.

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