The recent find of a more than 100-year-old, undelivered carrier pigeon message from World War I, encased in a thimble-sized aluminum container, wasn’t just a rare find. Its discovery by a retired couple on a walk through a field in eastern France near the German border is being called a “super rare” find. The message on tissue-thin paper was written in German Gothic script. It came from an infantry soldier and discusses German maneuvers in a region that has since become part of France. According to Dominique Jardy, curator of the Linge Memorial Museum in Orbey, France, the capsule was probably buried in mud and later rose to the surface, as do many military grenades and shells. The letter and capsule will be displayed at the museum, which is dedicated to the battle for Le Linge in the Vosges mountains in 1915. The battle has been called one of the war’s bloodiest.
During World War I and World War II, carrier pigeons were used to transport messages back to home coops behind the enemy lines. When they landed, wires in the coop would sound a bell or buzzer and a soldier of the Signal Corps would know a message had arrived. Carrier pigeons had a 95% successful delivery rate.