Cher Ami: The Pigeon Hero that Saved the Lost Battalion

Cher Ami: The Pigeon Hero that Saved the Lost Battalion


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4 October, 1918, a carrier pigeon arrived at his loft on the Western Front having been shot through the chest. The message carrier still hung from its wounded leg and contained the following:

We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heavens sake stop it.

The message had come from the ‘Lost Battalion’, more than 500 men of the US 77th Division, who had been cut off and surrounded by German forces in the Argonne sector. The pigeon was named Cher Ami.

First World War Communications

When the First World War began, telephone and telegraph were the predominant means of communication on the battlefield. Radio was still in its infancy and though wireless sets became more portable over the course of the war, they were initially too bulky to be practical.

Telephone and telegraph had their own disadvantages. In a conflict dominated by artillery, the wires were especially vulnerable and signallers couldn’t keep up with the repairs needed to keep lines up and running.

Pigeons Take Flight

Pigeons were an excellent alternative for sending messages on the Western Front. It’s estimated that as many as 95% of the messages sent from the trenches by carrier pigeon arrived successfully. They were a faster and more reliable option than either human or dog messengers.

In all, more than 100,000 pigeons were used by all sides during the war. Their importance is reflected in a poster printed by the British government warning that anyone responsible for killing or wounding homing pigeons would be subject to a hefty fine.

Meuse-Argonne and the Lost Battalion

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest American action of the First World War, and the most costly in their history. It began on 26 September, 1918, and benefited in the initial stages from catching the German defenders off guard. But their good fortune didn’t last and the defence soon stiffened.

On 2 October, troops of the 77th Division, under Major Charles Whittlesey, were ordered to attack into the dense Argonne Forest. They drove north, capturing an area of high ground. Whittlesey sent a runner to report that they had broken through the German lines and needed reinforcements. But something was wrong. To their right and left, German counterattacks had pushed French and American forces back and Whittlesey’s men were left exposed.

Major Charles Whittlesey (right) received the Medal of Honor in recognition of his service during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive

But Whittlesey was still surrounded, short on ammunition and with barely any food. American planes attempted to drop supplies on their position but most missed. A valiant pilot flew a low level pass over the Americans to get an accurate idea of their location. The plane was shot down but a French patrol found the wreckage and recovered their map. Allied artillery was now able to open fire on the encircling Germans without hitting Whittlesey’s men.

On 8 October, with the Germans having retreated under heavy fire, Whittlesey and what remained of his ‘Lost Battalion’ emerged from the Argonne Forest. More than 150 of his men were dead or missing.


Rediscovering 'Cher Ami' And The Lost Battalion: Questions For Kathleen Rooney

In London's Hyde Park, there's a heartbreaking series of sculptures called the Animals in War Memorial — heavily laden bronze donkeys struggling through a gap in an enormous curved wall. It honors creatures from elephants to glow worms, who served alongside humans in war as the memorial says, "they had no choice."

At the head of the animal parade carved on the wall fly three birds — I like to think they're homing pigeons like Cher Ami, the real-life bird who, though terribly wounded by German guns, carried the message that helped save a trapped battalion in World War I.

Cher Ami (who was a hen, despite her masculine name) is the inspiration for Kathleen Rooney's novel Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, which imagines the parallel lives of both the pigeon and the commander of what became known as the Lost Battalion.

Rooney teaches writing at DePaul university in Chicago she says a student's poem mentioned Cher Ami in passing, moving her to look up the story.

"The instant that I landed on Cher Ami's Wikipedia page, I could see that she was not merely a remarkable pigeon and World War I hero, but also that she would make an incredibly complex and unique protagonist for a novel," Rooney says. "As a fiction writer, I'm drawn to historical incidents and figures that were stunningly well-known in their day but that have since been forgotten. Both she and Major Charles Whittlesey (a person you are bound to stumble upon, too, if you're researching Cher Ami) fit that bill. I wanted to bring the two of them and their triumphs and tragedies back into the light in the 21st century.

There are quite a lot of parallels between Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey — tell me about how you developed those characters.

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Falling down that initial Wikipedia rabbit hole — well before I dug into my more deep and serious research — the resonances between these two unlikely heroes of the Lost Battalion were undeniable. For starters, Cher Ami had been misgendered all her life as a male bird and it was only after they taxidermied her body to install her in the Smithsonian that they discovered her to be a female pigeon. And Whittlesey — arguably the most celebrated hero of WWI aside from Alvin York — seemed, based on my investigations (and those of other contemporary researchers) to have been a gay man who had to keep that aspect of his identity to himself, given prevailing prejudices of the 1910s.

As a novelist, those echoes captivated me because not only did those traits make Cher Ami and Whit somewhat unusual for their era, but they also seemed to rhyme with each other in a way that revealed a lot about America's ideas of heroism and who could or could not be a hero. Like all wars, WWI was an incredibly masculine and patriarchal conflict, so to have these two crucial figures who decidedly did not fit in with that prefabricated, stereotypical notion of heterosexual male violence and bravery seemed like something that deserved a closer look.

I loved the pigeon culture you invented — it made me think a little bit of Watership Down. How did you build that world? (And was Watership Down an influence?)

Watership Down was definitely an influence because it's a book that often gets pigeonholed (pun intended) as for young readers, but that also has much to show readers of any age. I knew that making one of my two protagonists a pigeon who speaks in the first-person would possibly cause some readers to dismiss the book, but that's okay because I think that all humans everywhere would be in a much better position in terms of sustainability, the environment, and respect for all life if they took animals and other non-human beings more seriously. It seems like a failure of imagination to say animal characters are only for kids. To that end, another big influence in my creation of the voice of Cher Ami was the poet and newspaper columnist Don Marquis. His characters Archy the Cockroach and Mehitabel the Cat are two of my favorites in all of literature for how their animal perspectives allow Marquis to satirize, comment on, and critique the frequently bewildering and dispiriting world of human beings, but to do so in a witty and entertaining way.

You've also created a viscerally real world in the training camps, in transit and on the front — I could almost smell it. How did you do your research?

I'm a big smell person so I'm thrilled to hear the smells came through. Because I've never been a soldier or a pigeon, I knew that I had to be extremely careful and thorough in my research to create both of those worlds in a way that was respectful, plausible, and realistic. If research and writing can be compared to plotting a route on a really big map, then I started by dropping a pin into my destination, so to speak, of the story of the Lost Battalion, and then zooming as far out from there as I could in order to make myself walk slowly and observantly back in. I read up on the big, panoramic-view causes for and reasons behind WWI and how America eventually came to be involved, but then worked my way methodically closer and closer to the 308th Infantry, 77th Division in which Whit was a commander, and then toward Whit himself and his and Cher Ami's brutal days trapped by the Germans in the Pocket.

Pigeons are much maligned these days and if my book does anything, I hope it helps readers who feel unimpressed by these birds to have another look.

Moreover, I did a ton of research on pigeons and how they are raised and how they learn how to home, and why they were such crucial messengers in times of war all the way through World War II. My favorite element of research, though, was extremely personal in that as I was drafting the novel, a pigeon couple moved in under the eaves of our condo and raised two adorable babies and I got to see all of my pigeon research — about how they nest, how they parent, how they learn to fly and on and on — play out right in front of my eyes. It was beautiful.

Pigeons are much maligned these days and if my book does anything, I hope it helps readers who feel unimpressed by these birds to have another look.

World War I was so long ago — it's finally passed out of living memory. What does that conflict have to tell us today?

I kept thinking about that as I was writing — how unlike more recent conflicts, not a single person is still alive who directly experienced World War I. Twenty million humans — including roughly 10 million soldiers and 10 million civilians — and countless animals — including pigeons, dogs, horses, mules, donkeys and more — died in that four-year bloodbath. And for what? At best, WWI shows up as the answer to a question on a high school history exam now and again. That futility becomes less futile if maybe readers are able to look at this conflict and see that everything is a choice, a choice we can make or not make, but only if we act collectively. The leaders of the various empires of the globe pushed their citizenry toward convulsive violence and mass destruction, just as now, empires that promote power above all other ends and a capitalist system that prioritizes profit over people and all other forms of life pushes our planet to the breaking point.

It's hard to stop the momentum of things like war, like global warming, like human assumption of superiority over animals, or like hierarchies of dominance of all kinds. But I think we could. It would take a lot of people acting together, but we could. Fiction, I hope, is a place where our imaginations can go to figure out what kinds of decisions and alternatives might be possible.


The Heartwarming Story Of Cher Ami, The Pigeon Who Saved 200 American Soldiers

On October 4, 1918, it is the eve. Slowly but surely “The War to End All Wars” is ending. In Chatel Chéhéry in northeastern France, the Allied Forces were fighting against the Germans through the valley

Already in the Argonne forest along the Meuse River, Germany loses its battle and its troops become tired, demoralized and affected.

No less than 400,000 allied soldiers were deployed to the spot just weeks previously to join their brothers in arms in one of the biggest conflicts of the war, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

Almost 200,000 were dead or severely wounded by the end of the battle and the Armistice on November 11, 1918. Some 25,000 of them were American boys who never made the return home, even though they hoped and prayed for it, knowing it was so, so close.

However, 197 men were lucky enough to be saved and by none other than a pigeon–those bread-crumb-eating little feathered friends of ours that can ruin even the best of our days оn occasion or smear our windshields with their surprise droppings from the sky.

They are not considered to be the brightest of birds but are extremely loyal and devoted, with an extraordinary ability to always find the way back home.

As such, pigeons were trained to fit our needs and have been employed as messengers and couriers for eons, enabling us to deliver a tweet or an SMS long before we came to enjoy the privilege of electricity and advanced technology.

War pigeon Cher Ami

For instance, during the two world wars, the U.S. military admitted as many as 200,000 pigeons into its ranks in order to conduct surveillance or transport messages. Our hero was one of them, trained by the British government and donated to the U.S. military right before the war, and one of the 600 owned and flown in France by the United States Army Signal Corps.

On that day, our pigeon found itself in the hands of Major Charles Whittlesey, who was trapped behind enemy lines with the 308th Battalion of the 77th division, on the downward slope of a hill in the heart of the Argonne Forest.

The Allies were making a tactical retreat, but the 308th got stuck behind–no one knew their exact location or if they were alive even. Whittlesey’s “Lost Battalion” of 200 men was hungry, dehydrated, under heavy fire and unable to move without revealing their whereabouts to the enemy.

The Lost Battalion of World War I

Major Whittlesey wrote a message, put it in a metal case, and turned to his feathered trusties to deliver it.

The first pigeon didn’t make it, nor did the second, both gunned down almost instantly by the Germans. He then attached this desperate plea to the leg of another pigeon, one that had already passed critical information within the American sector at Verdun 12 times.

And as before, just as it flew out from his hand, the Germans instantly opened fire at it. The bird got shot once in the breast. It was shot for the second time, but in his leg now. Still, it kept on flying, for 25 miles more, against the wind and oblivious to the heavy rain of bullets. And in about 25 minutes or less it reached where it was supposed to go, blinded in one eye, with the leg carrying the message dangling on a single tendon.

One of the allied soldiers at the coop untangled the metal case with gentle care so he would not tear the leg out completely. He opened the message:

“We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake, stop it.”

They did immediately and extracted Major Whittlesey and his whole battalion back to safety, and thanks to this pigeon that never gave up, back to their homes and the embraces of their loved ones.

The pigeon was later named Cher Ami, meaning “Dear Friend” in French. A dear friend she was indeed, and a real hero within the 77th division.

The people whose lives had been saved thanks to her, gave all to help and now save their little friend in return. They saved her life but unfortunately couldn’t save the leg. Instead, the medics shaped a new wooden leg for her to use. Back in the United States after the war had finally ended, the carrier pigeon was awarded a Croix de Guerre medal, with a bronze oak leaf cluster ribbon device, to recognize her great sacrifice and heroism in the War.

The eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 2018 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, and 100 years from the moment when World War I finally came to an end.

So next time, when we are scraping bird’s droppings from our windshields or getting angry at them for ruining our best presentable outfits, it is probably nice to remember this little pigeon’s existence and how she risked her life to save hundreds. Cher Ami died on June 13, 1919, and her carefully preserved body is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution.

A Monument to the Lost Battalion in the Argonne Forest, France shows Cher Ami

Shot and blinded, a pigeon named Cher Ami continued her flight and saved 197 American soldiers at the end of World War I

It’s the eve of October 4, 1918. “The War to End All Wars” is slowly but surely coming to an end. The Allied Forces are making their last offensive push against the German troops through the valley in Chatel Chéhéry in northeastern France. Germany is losing the war and iys soldiers, exhausted, demoralized, and struck by influenza, are making a last stand in the Argonne Forest along the banks of the Meuse River.

No less than 400,000 allied soldiers were deployed to the spot just weeks previously to join their brothers in arms in one of the biggest conflicts of the war, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Almost 200,000 were dead or severely wounded by the end the battle and the Armistice on November 11, 1918. Some 25,000 of them were American boys who never made the return home, even though they hoped and prayed for it, knowing it was so, so close.

However, 197 men were lucky enough to be saved and by none other than a pigeon–those bread-crumb-eating little feathered friends of ours that can ruin even the best of our days оn occasion or smear our windshields with their surprise droppings from the sky.

They are not considered to be the brightest of birds but are extremely loyal and devoted, with an extraordinary ability to always find the way back home. As such, pigeons were trained to fit our needs and have been employed as messengers and couriers for eons, enabling us to deliver a tweet or an SMS long before we came to enjoy the privilege of electricity and advanced technology.

For instance, during the two world wars, the U.S. military admitted as many as 200,000 pigeons into its ranks in order to conduct surveillance or transport messages. Our hero was one of them, trained by the British government and donated to the U.S. military right before the war, and one of the 600 owned and flown in France by the United States Army Signal Corps. On that day, our pigeon found itself in the hands of Major Charles Whittlesey, who was trapped behind enemy lines with the 308th Battalion of the 77th division, on the downward slope of a hill in the heart of the Argonne Forest.

The Allies were making a tactical retreat, but the 308th got stuck behind–no one knew their exact location or if they were alive even. Whittlesey’s “Lost Battalion” of 200 men was hungry, dehydrated, under heavy fire and unable to move without revealing their whereabouts to the enemy. Major Whittlesey wrote a message, put it in a metal case, and turned to his feathered trusties to deliver it.

The first pigeon didn’t make it, nor did the second, both gunned down almost instantly by the Germans. He then attached this desperate plea to the leg of another pigeon, one that had already passed critical information within the American sector at Verdun 12 times.

And as before, just as it flew out from his hand, the Germans instantly opened fire at it. The bird got shot once in the breast. It was shot for the second time, but in his leg now. Still, it kept on flying, for 25 miles more, against the wind and oblivious to the heavy rain of bullets. And in about 25 minutes or less it reached where it was supposed to go, blinded in one eye, with the leg carrying the message dangling on a single tendon. One of the allied soldiers at the coop untangled the metal case with gentle care so he would not tear the leg out completely. He opened the message:

“We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake, stop it.”

They did immediately and extracted Major Whittlesey and his whole battalion back to safety, and thanks to this pigeon that never gave up, back to their homes and the embraces of their loved ones. The pigeon was later named Cher Ami, meaning “Dear Friend” in French. A dear friend she was indeed, and a real hero within the 77th division.

The people whose lives had been saved thanks to her, gave all to help and now save their little friend in return. They saved her life but unfortunately couldn’t save the leg. Instead, the medics shaped a new wooden leg for her to use. Back in the United States after the war had finally ended, the carrier pigeon was awarded a Croix de Guerre medal, with a bronze oak leaf cluster ribbon device, to recognize her great sacrifice and heroism in the War.

The eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 2018 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, and 100 years from the moment when World War I finally came to an end. So next time, when we are scraping bird’s droppings from our windshields or getting angry at them for ruining our best presentable outfits, it is probably nice to remember this little pigeon’s existence and how she risked her life to save hundreds. Cher Ami died on June 13, 1919, and her carefully preserved body is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution.


Cher Ami – WW1 homing pigeon saved 194 men by continuing her flight after losing a leg, an eye and having been shot through the chest

Animals have served alongside humans in the military since ancient times. Just like humans they also risked their lives, and many of them died alongside their armies.

Throughout history, there are many stories of animal war heroes who played crucial roles and proved to be just as dependable as soldiers. One such story is the story of a pigeon named Cher Ami.

More than 200,000 pigeons were enlisted in the U.S. Military During World War I and World War II. They delivered many vital messages, and by doing it they saved the lives of thousands in WWI and WW2. One such pigeon was Cher Ami (“Dear Friend” in French), who helped save the lives of nearly 200 American soldiers who were stranded behind enemy lines in France, back in 1918.

It was during the battle of Argonne, the greatest American battle of the First World War when 500 American soldiers became stranded behind enemy lines. They had no food and no ammunition and suffered heavy losses since the Germans surrounded them. To make things worse, they were also exposed to friendly-fire since the Allied forces thought that they were the enemy.

It all started on October 3, 1918, and by the second day, more than 300 American soldiers were killed. There was not much hope for the remaining 194 soldiers that were lucky to be still alive. Their last hope was to try and dispatch messages by one of the three carrier pigeons they had with them.

The first two pigeons were shot down by the enemy, and only one homing pigeon named Cher Ami was left. The desperate soldiers had no other choice and decided to write the final note:

“We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake, stop it.”

Cher Ami took off, and while flying across the battlefields she was shot down by the Germans, but she somehow managed to take off again. Besides the fact that she was severely wounded she traveled 25 miles in order to complete her mission and save the lives of nearly 200 soldiers.

Cher Ami arrived in the headquarters’ pigeon loft in just 25 minutes. Covered in blood, with a bullet in the chest, blinded in one eye and hopping on one leg she managed to save the “Lost Battalion.” Finally, on October 7, 194 survivors of the battalion were rescued.

Cher Ami monument in France

Medics managed to save the life of Cher Ami and even carved a wooden leg to replace the one that was blown off. She became a true war hero and made the headlines in many American newspapers.

The French government decorated her with the Croix de guerre (Cross of War) Medal for her bravery. As a result of her wounds, Cher Ami died less than a year later.


Lisa's History Room

“Lost Battalion” in Argonne Forest by Frank E. Schoonover. Ladies’ Home Journal, 1918.

On October 1, 1918, about 550 soldiers of the U.S. 77th Division found themselves surrounded by Germans in the Argonne Forest. Major Charles Whittlesey was their leader. He was just following orders, to push forward at all costs, push the enemy further toward the border and out of the country. Instead, after traipsing through thick brush and tangled wires, old abandoned German headquarters, and dead bodies, they were behind enemy lines, trapped in the Charlevaux Ravine, between two high and steep hills. They were subject to an immediate and near-constant barrage of enemy fire. By the end of the third day, the Germans had killed or wounded a quarter of the men, and those remaining Americans were reduced to hunkering down in their funk hole, hoping the next grenade didn’t land there and blow them to bits. They were hungry, thirsty, and running low on ammunition. The nearest water source was a muddy stream which the Germans guarded zealously. The Americans had no medical supplies with which to treat the groaning wounded. They were cut off from any supply routes. The weather was cold, wet, and gray.

The Major sent runners for help none made it up the hillside without instantly being picked off by German snipers. Worse, due to an error in a message sent by carrier pigeon, Allied artillery misunderstood their location and began firing upon the trapped unit. More men were killed, but this time, by “friendly fire,” bullets inadvertently fired on them by their own American troops. Their situation was desperate. They needed to contact headquarters to get their own troops to stop firing upon them.

They had dispatched many carrier pigeons with messages for HQ but many were shot down by the Germans. It was mid-afternoon on October 4 when pigeon handler Private Omer Richards reached into the wicker pigeon basket to release yet another pigeon with a message.

Photograph of the Western Front. Pigeons were used at the front to keep commanders in the rear up to date on the action and enemy movement. (National Archives Identifier 17391468)

There was one bird left and the embattled unit placed their hope on this two-year old bird. He was a seasoned carrier pigeon named *Cher Ami (which means “Dear Friend” in French). His home loft was Mobile #9 then stationed at the 77th Division message center about 25 miles away at Rampont. Cher Ami knew the way well. Private John Nell recalled,

“…Major Whittlesey turned our last homing pigeon loose with what seemed to be our last message….If that one lonely, scared pigeon failed to find its loft…we would go just like the others who were being mangled and blown to pieces….”

A war pigeon is fitted with a message.

The message, written by Major Whittlesey on a page torn from the pigeon message book, was slipped into a tiny aluminum tube and clipped to the pigeon’s leg. Richards picked up Cher Ami and, around 3:00, lifted him skyward to fly. But the air was full of flying scrap steel and explosions, scaring the bird. He circled above the ravine before landing slightly farther down the hill in a burned-out, shrapnel-twisted tree.

Those men who had gathered around now began to yell at Cher Ami, “Go! Get out of here!” tossing sticks and rocks at him. But he refused to budge from his perch. Richards ended up shimmying up the tree after him. German shells exploded around Richards and bullets pinged off the bark near his hands. Cher Ami cocked his head at the soldier, preening his feathers out of utter fear. Finally Richards was able to reach up and shake the branch where the bird sat, roaring, “Fly!” Cher Ami took off, got his bearings, then headed back over the ravine in the direction of his dovecote.

The Germans took potshots at Cher Ami, trying to take him down, knowing full well his mission, but the bird continued to gain height and was soon lost to view. The American soldiers then scampered down the hill to move the wounded men to a place that was somewhat protected from the shelling. They piled up the dead bodies as a wall:

Bullets from across the brook thumped sickeningly into the corpse wall as the wounded hunkered down behind it.

It was 3:30 pm when the little bell of Mobil loft #9 rang, signaling that a messenger pigeon had just landed and passed through the gate into the coop. Corporal George Gault was on duty. What he found in the cage was a blood-stained gray and black checked cock pigeon squatting unsteadily and leaning to one side. He reached in and the pigeon collapsed entirely. Gently, he picked it up. Cher Ami was bleeding badly from a gaping wound in his chest and he was missing an eye. He was barely alive. Turning the hurt bird over to get the message, he found the little tube barely hanging on to what remained of the torn tendons of a missing leg. Gault read the message, gasped, then ran immediately to get the lieutenant on duty. They got General Milliken on the field telephone, reading the urgent message to him in words, not in code:

We are along the road parallel 276.4

Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us.

For Heaven’s sake, stop it.

The division vet arrived to take the barely breathing bird away.

By 4:22, the American shelling had stopped. The Germans saw the opportunity and began a ferocious attack on the trapped 77th Division.

Finally, the Americans were able to push west through the Argonne to force the Germans to abandon the front facing the 77 th Division. On October 8, reinforcements reached Whittlesey’s unit. Of the men trapped in that wooded ravine, 194 survived. Whittlesey’s unit came to be known as the Lost Battalion. The next month, on November 11, an armistice was signed between the warring factions that brought the war on the Western Front of World War I to an end.

Members of the Lost Battalion getting their first meal at a regiment kitchen after the fight in the Charlevaux Ravine. Oct 1918. Public Domain

Cher Ami became the hero of the 77th Infantry Division. Army medics had saved his life. When he recovered enough to travel, the one-legged, one-eyed bird was put on a boat to the United States, with General John J. Pershing seeing him off.

For his heroic service, Cher Ami was awarded the French “Croix de Guerre” with palm. Eight months after his heroic flight, he died at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey on June 13, 1919, as a result of his wounds. Cher Ami was later inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931, and received a gold medal from the Organized Bodies of American Pigeon Fanciers in recognition of his extraordinary service during World War I.

Cher Ami, war hero, on display at the Smithsonian Museum, Washington, D. C.

His stuffed body is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s “Price of Freedom: Americans at War” exhibit in Washington, D.C. Cher Ami is one of the heroes of World War I. Although the Germans had shot him through the breast, blinded him in one eye, and shattered his leg, he continued to fly to reach help for the men of his division. He gave his life for his country and so that others could live.

For more on what scientists are learning about the homing instinct of pigeons, check out the new book, The Genius of Birds, by Jennifer Ackerman.

*Cher Ami, at the time, was a 2-year-old black and gray checkered English National Union Racing Pigeon Association cock #615, U. S. Army serial no. 43678 of the Signal Corps 1 st Pigeon Division.


The Lost Battalion of World War I

It's late September of 1918 in northern France. The war will end soon on November 11, but one last massive battle, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive is raging on. It's one of the biggest conflicts of World War I, lasting 47 days until the Armistice. Over a million Allied soldiers are involved and over 25,000 Americans will die by the end of this battle.

A group of 500 American soldiers led by Major Charles Whittlesey were trapped in a small depression of a hill, surrounded by Germans. After the first day, only 200 of Whittlesey's "lost battalion" were left. To make the situation even more FUBAR, their fellow Americans didn't know their location and had begun firing shells at them.

Whittlesey sent out two messages by homing pigeon asking the Americans for help, but both pigeons were shot down. The friendly fire on them continued. A final pigeon named Cher Ami was released with a with a desperate plea:


How a Pigeon Helped Save the 'Lost Battalion'

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- One of World War I’s most heroic battlefield story features a bookish lawyer, a millionaire who charged up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt, a carrier pigeon that’s now in the Smithsonian, and draftee Soldiers from New York City who served in the 77th Division.

One hundred years later, the story of the 550 men of the “Lost Battalion” –American Soldiers trapped behind enemy lines in the Argonne forest– still resonates.

It’s been the subject of countless books, a 2001 TV movie, and a 2016 song by the Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton.

But the “Lost Battalion” wasn’t actually lost, nor was it even a battalion.

Major Charles Whittlesey, the commander, knew right where his men were located. It was their higher headquarters who weren’t sure where they were.

And Whittlesey was only the commander of the 1st Battalion of the 308th Infantry Regiment. The regiment’s 2nd Battalion was also present, along with a company from the 307th Infantry Regiment. But as senior officer, Whittlesey took charge.

The regiments were part of the 77th Division. The division was a “National Army” division made up of drafted men who were not in the Regular Army and not part of the National Guard.

77th Division Soldiers were mostly from New York City, and the division was nicknamed the “Metropolitan Division” or “Times Square Division” because of that.

By October of 1918 the 77th Division had seen its share of action and taken casualties. A lot of casualties. New Yorkers had been replaced by Soldiers from Midwestern farms who had little training.

The American First Army had kicked off its offensive in France’s Meuse-Argonne region with a goal of reaching the city of Sedan and cutting the railroad which supplied German armies in France.

The American offensive—the largest battle in American history—involved 1.2 million Soldiers and kicked off on Sept. 26, 1918.

On October 2, 1918, Whittlesey and his battalion were to attack north into the dense Argonne Forest with the 2nd Battalion of the 308th in support. Both units should have had about 800 men each at full strength, but now they barely had 800 men together.

They were to attack regardless of whether or not they lost contact with units on their left or right.

The 2nd Battalion was led by Capt. George McMurtry. McMurtry, a Harvard graduate was a Wall Street lawyer like Whittlesey as well. But McMurtry had combat experience. He’d served in the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry – known more familiarly as the Rough Riders—during the Spanish American War and had fought in the Battle of San Juan Hill.

Both men thought the mission was too much for two understrength battalions. But they were told to attack no matter what.

“All right. I’ll attack, but whether you’ll hear from me again I don’t know,” Whittlesey told his regimental commander.

The attack commenced at 6:30 a.m. in foggy and wet weather of that cool October morning.

Whittlesey and McMurtry—with Whittlesey just behind the lead Soldiers -- led their men north. They encountered enemy fire and went to ground.

But a position called Hill 198 on their maps appeared to be undermanned. The two battalion’s—three companies each—overran the German defenders.

They drove north to their objective on high ground beyond the Charlevaux. Whittlesey sent back word that they had broken through the German lines.

In 1918 communicating meant laying a telephone line behind advancing troops—not practical in heavy woods like the Argonne—or sending back a Soldier with a message.

Troops were also equipped with carrier pigeons to fly back to headquarters with a message wrapped on their leg. Whittlesey’s command had eight pigeons.

Whittlesey sent a runner back to let his commander know he had reached his objective and needed reinforcements. Two of the eight understrength companies that had begun the attack had gotten separated from the 1st and 2nd battalions.

The French unit on their right flank had been stopped and the 77th Division regiment on their left had also been stopped.

At nightfall on October 2, the two battalions of the 308th – about 450 men—were set up in an oval position three hundred yards long and 60 yards wide. They had no additional ammunition, and no extra food and water.

A battalion from the 307th Infantry Regiment was ordered forward to reinforce Whittlesey’s position, but only Company K from the 3rd Battalion managed to find the 308th Infantry battalions.

Throughout the following day, October 3rd, the men waited for reinforcements. A platoon sent to find the missing two companies of the 308th got ambushed. Germans reoccupied Hill 198 taken the previous day.

The 77th Division men were now surrounded. With German fire pouring in from all four sides of their perimeter, men were shot, wounded and killed in greater numbers each passing hour.

Whittlesey sent a carrier pigeon with his position and asked for help. 77th Division troops were attacking to reach the men but made no progress. More carrier pigeons were sent.

On Friday, October 4, an American plane flew over their position. The officers hoped that supplies would be airdropped to them. But the pilot thought he was looking at German troops. American artillery began landing on Whittlesey’s men. Americans were now being killed by American fire.

Pvt. Omar Richards, the pigeon handler of the unit, was down to two birds. He took one, a pigeon he had nicknamed “Cher Ami” –French for Dear Friend– and prepared to release it.

Whittlesey wrote a note — “We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake stop it” — to be attached to the pigeon’s leg.

Richards released the bird. It flew around and landed on a tree opposite Richards and Whittlesey. The two men yelled and screamed at it. Finally the bird flew away. Twenty-five minutes later the pigeon landed at headquarters. The firing stopped.

Along the way, Cher Ami had been hit by German fire. She had been shot through the breast, blinded in one eye, and her right leg was hanging by a tendon.

On October 5, American Airmen began dropping supplies to Whittlesey’s men. DH-4 two seater planes from the 50th Aero Squadron flew four missions over the lines dropping rations and ammunition in what the Air Force now lists as the first American aerial resupply mission.

Unfortunately, most of the supplies missed.

On October 6 the 50th Aero Squadron flew 13 more missions to drop supplies. More importantly, one crew determined a way to pin down the location of Whittlesey’s command.

Pilot 1st Lieutenant Harold Goettler and 2nd Lt. Erwin Bleckley, his backseat observer flew over the area at 300 feet. They came back to base shot up, but convinced they could pinpoint the location of Whittlesey’s men by drawing enemy fire.

The two men flew back over the area at treetop level. The Germans started shooting. Then they turned around and made another pass.

German machine guns on the high ridges were actually shooting down at the American plane. Goettler was hit, but before he died he turned toward allied lines. The plane crashed and Bleckley was thrown out and died.

But a French patrol found the plane and found the map on which Bleckley noted the American positions. Now American guns could hit the Germans without hitting Whittlesey’s men.

Also that day, the Germans attacked with flame throwers. The Americans fought them off, exploding some of the flame throwers on the backs of the Germans carrying them.

On October 7 a team of Americans searching for supplies were ambushed by the Germans. One man, Pvt. Lowell R. Hollingshead was sent back into the pocket with a message urging the Americans to surrender.

The American commanders read the note and looked at each. “They’re begging us to quit. They’re more worried than we are,” McMurtry said.

But the Americans were almost out of ammunition and the men were so weak they could no longer bury the dead.

At 7 p.m. on the night of October 7, 1918 a patrol from the 77th Division’s 307th Infantry Regiment walked into the pocket without meeting any Germans. The attacks against the German lines by the American Army had forced them to fall back.

On October 8, the 190 remaining men of the “Lost Battalion” walked back to American lines. Another 260 were carried out. 107 men were dead and 63 missing.

They had become heroes. American newspapers had coined the term “Lost Battalion” and men and women across the country had followed the battle in their local papers.

Cher Ami, the carrier pigeon, became the mascot of the 77th Division. She was treated for her wounds and a little wooden leg was carved to replace the one she lost in battle. She died in 1919 and her body was stuffed and today is on exhibit in the Smithsonian Institute.

Major Charles Whittlesey was promoted and awarded the Medal of Honor. He was asked to speak at various patriotic events and chair events after the war.

He was part of the select group who escorted the body of America’s World War I Unknown Soldier back to Arlington National Cemetery in 1921.

He headed the Red Cross Roll Call in New York City and as a result, continually met Soldiers suffering and dying from their wounds along with their families. But this work made things worse for Whittlesey.

“Raking over the ashes like this revives all the horrific memories. I’ll hear the wounded screaming again. I have nightmares about them. I can’t remember when I’ve had a good nights sleep,” he told a fellow diner after a Red Cross Dinner.

On Nov. 24, 1921, the 37-year old Whittlesey boarded the passenger ship S.S. Toloa heading for Cuba. After dinner on Nov. 26 he stayed up late before returning to his cabin. He was never seen again. Inside on the cabin bunk he left nine letters for friends and family.

George McMurtry, on the other hand, lived until age 82. The volunteer Soldier turned lawyer turned Soldier again made millions in the stock market and paid for “Lost Battalion” reunion events out of his own pocket until he died on Nov. 22, 1958.


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Contents

The men of the 77th Division, who held the Charlevaux ravine, which became known as the "pocket", were mostly from New York City. The 77th Division is known as the "liberty" division due to the Statue of Liberty patch they wore, but in WWI they were usually referred to as the "Metropolitan" division because of where most of the men hailed from. [4] Most of the enlisted men were recent immigrants or were poor working class from the streets of New York City fighting from a young age for food. These attributes acquired on the streets are seen by some historians [ who? ] as one of the reasons that this group survived in the Argonne.

The 77th Division was trained at what became a prestigious camp called Camp Upton, located in Suffolk County on Long Island. Charles Whittlesey, an east coast lawyer, was assigned as a battalion commander in the 77th upon completion of his officer's training. The camp was located a half mile from the town of Yaphank, New York. "Yaphank, where the hell is Yaphank?" [5] was a common expression heard among the new recruits of Camp Upton.

While universally known as the "Lost Battalion", this force actually consisted of companies from 4 different battalions - A, B, C Companies of the 1st Battalion, 308th Infantry Regiment (1-308th Inf) E,G, H companies of the 2nd Battalion 308th Infantry (2-308th Inf) K Company of the 3rd Battalion of the 307th Infantry Regiment (3-307th Inf) and C, D Companies of the 306th Machine Gun Battalion. All of these companies belonged to the 154th Infantry Brigade of the 77th Division and with a strength of approximately 545 men was a battalion-sized force. Major Whittlesey was the battalion commander of 1-308th Inf, the senior officer present, and he assumed command of the entire force once he realized it was surrounded.

Argonne Forest before the attack Edit

The Argonne Forest was seized by the Germans at the early stages of the war. They had set up defensive positions throughout the forest, using a string of networked trenches. These defences started with a roughly 550-yard (500 m) deep front line which "served as not much more than an advanced warning system". [6] Beyond the first line, which consisted of trenches, shell holes, and listening posts, the Allies would have to push through the dense forest to the main battle lines. The next battle line, which was about 1 mile (2 km) in depth, had turned back all Allied attacks over the last four years. This battle line, which consisted of wired trenches that were firmly held, was referred to by the Germans as "Hagen Stellung" ("Hagen position"). The Next German battle line, referred to as the "Hagen Stellung-Nord" ("Hagen position-North"), was "basically a machine-gun-covered, pre-sighted artillery target." [7] This was a very well entrenched location utilizing both natural and man-made barriers. Together, these two battle lines formed what was known as "Etzel Stellungen" ("Etzel positions").

The Hagen Stellung-Nord formed the most difficult problem. Over the years, the Germans had pre-sighted every square inch of the area in case of a hostile takeover. Should attackers take the Hagen Stellung-Nord, they came immediately into danger of annihilation by German artillery. No occupier could remain there for long.

The Germans also spread barbed wire for hundreds of miles. At various points, it was higher than a man's head and several, even many, yards deep. The Germans also placed barbed wire at the bottom of rivers and small streams to prevent any troop movement across these areas.

Orders Edit

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive began on the morning of September 26, 1918. General Evan Johnson, the commander in charge of the Argonne part of the offensive, had a "no retreat" command for his divisions:

It is again impressed upon every officer and man of this command that ground once captured must under no circumstances be given up in the absence of direct, positive, and formal orders to do so emanating from these headquarters. Troops occupying ground must be supported against counterattack and all gains held. It is a favorite trick of the Boche to spread confusion. by calling out "retire" or "fall back." If, in action, any such command is heard officers and men may be sure that it is given by the enemy. Whoever gives such a command is a traitor and it is the duty of any officer or man who is loyal to his country and who hears such an order given to shoot the offender upon the spot. "WE ARE NOT GOING BACK BUT FORWARD!" –General Alexander. [8]

On 1 October, Whittlesey was given his orders: first, he was to advance north up the Ravine d’Argonne until it ended, at the Ravin de Charlevaux. Upon reaching it they were to continue across the brook and take the Charlevaux Mill. Behind this mill was the Binarville-La Viergette road. The securing of the mill was imperative to seize control of the road and a rail line that ran parallel to the north of it. This road was crucial because it allowed for the movement of supplies to the Allied soldiers. The railway was crucial because it would cut off one of the Germans’ major supply routes. The plan was to have the first battalion lead the assault, led personally by Whittlesey. They would be supported by the second battalion, led by Captain McMurtry. Just after 5:00 pm on that evening the attack came to a halt and the men dug in for the night.

On the morning of 2 October, the final orders came at around 05:00. The main objective was still the Binarville-La Viergette road. The attack was to start at 07:00, to give time for the fog to lift and the men to eat. Whittlesey and McMurtry ordered Companies D and F to remain along the western ridge to become a containing force. The rest of the first and second battalions would continue along a prominence known as "Hill 198" to complete a flanking maneuver on the enemy. The problem was that on the hill there was a double trench line of German soldiers. The plan was that once the two battalions took the hill they would then send back companies E and H to create a line to Companies D and F.

The attack and encirclement Edit

By the night of 2 October, after a long day of fighting, Major Whittlesey received information that the men had found a way up the right of Hill 198. At around this same moment the French experienced a massive counterattack by the Germans and were forced to fall back, exposing the left flank of the 308th. The same occurred on the right flank with the other American Division, causing the 308th to be outflanked on both sides. However, they did not discover this until shortly after they reached the peak of Hill 198. The hill was now in their control however, it was too quiet for Whittlesey. He realized that he could hear nothing of the 307th that was supposed to be on their flank. "Either they had broken through the line as well and reached their objective over there, or they had been licked and fallen back. The former would be good news for the 308th . The latter, however, was unthinkable orders forbade it. " [9]

While this was happening, to the rear of the main action George W. Quinn, [10] a runner with the battalion, was killed while attempting to reach Major Whittlesey with a message from Whittlesey's adjutant, Lieutenant Arthur McKeogh. Whittlesey earlier in the day had sent McKeogh back about 150 yd (140 m) with 15 men with light machine guns to silence German machine gunners who had cut communications between Whittlesey's battalion and the American rear during the night. The Germans were taking ground from which they could surround Whittlesey's men. McKeogh's undelivered message asked for a mortar to use against the strong German position. Quinn was found four months later to have killed three German soldiers who had mortally wounded him before he could reach Whittlesey.

The men dug in on Hill 198 and created what is known as "the pocket" in what was a fairly good defensive position. The two best companies were on the flanks, with support from the weaker companies. A single company took up the front of the pocket. The rear was the least protected from attack and was defended by only a few riflemen and several machine guns. The hill sloped steeply from the front of the pocket, making it difficult for Germans to bomb the battalion from that direction. The biggest flaw in their position was that their holes were dug too close together, and too many men were occupying the holes at the same time. This created easy targets for mortars and snipers. By about 22:30, Whittlesey realized that Hill 205 was still occupied by the Germans on the left, and the ravine to the right was also full of enemy soldiers.

The morning of 3 October was spent trying to re-establish contact with the flanks and with the companies that were left behind. Whittlesey sent out runners to the French and American units that were supposed to be on his flanks. None of the runners returned, neither from the flanks nor from trying to connect with the companies that Whittlesey had left behind. All were killed or captured by the enemy. The more time that passed without any messages the more Whittlesey was coming to the conclusion that they were actually surrounded. However, the Germans were not attacking the German forces within the ravine believed that they were outnumbered by the Americans.

German counter-attack Edit

That afternoon, the Germans attacked from all sides. "A single one up front might not have been so bad, but there were others on the flanks, and sniper fire ringing out as well." [11] At this time, Captain Holderman, an officer working with Whittlesey, realized the predicament that the men were in. The German forces had nearly doubled and were closing in on them. Their communication line was cut and so they could not receive supplies of food or ammunition. Holderman tried to lead an assault out through the back of the pocket, but failed to break out, incurring heavy casualties in the process. This infuriated Whittlesey, but seeing that there was nothing he could do he simply sent the survivors back to their defensive positions. Next came a grenade assault followed by mortars raining in on them, but the Americans did not stagger. Another attack came a little after 17:00, and it lasted for about 45 minutes. After this attack was over, the Germans began to settle down for the day. The Americans had suffered many casualties, but inflicted similarly heavy losses on the attacking Germans.

On the morning of 4 October, patrols were sent out on their morning routes, and Whittlesey was unsure that any of the carrier pigeons had actually made it through. He was unsure if command actually knew of the desperate situation that was unfolding. Whittlesey believed that his orders to hold this position still applied, because the position was the key to breaking through the German lines. There has been much controversy among different historians regarding how it occurred, but Whittlesey and his men were shelled by their own artillery. Some believe that Whittlesey had relayed the wrong coordinates, while others believe that Whittlesey had gotten the coordinates right and the artillery's aim was off, the truth was that they had advanced to the North slope of the Charlevaux Ravine while the artillery thought he was on the South slope. [12] Whittlesey released his final carrier pigeon, named Cher Ami, to call off the barrage. "A shell exploded directly below the bird, killing five of our men and stunning the pigeon so that it fluttered to the ground midway between the spring. and the bridge we crossed to get into the Pocket." [ citation needed ]

The pigeon managed to take flight again and despite being severely wounded, successfully delivered the message: "We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heavens sake stop it." Cher Ami had been shot through the breast, blinded in one eye, and had a leg hanging only by a tendon. The pigeon was tended to by army medics, and was considered a hero of the 77th Division for helping to save the lives of the 194 survivors. [13]

As soon as the Allied shelling had stopped, the Germans launched an attack. After many losses and much hand-to-hand combat, the German forces were driven back once again. Although many had been killed or captured, the unit still remained intact, but morale was low and sickness was setting in. Many men only had a few bullets left and no food. Bandages were being taken off of the dead and reused on the wounded. A package was reported to have been dropped in for the men to resupply, but all reports point to it falling into German territory. Water was accessible, but getting to it required exposing oneself to German fire.

From 5–8 October, the Germans continued to attack. They also sent messengers asking for the 308th to surrender. Whittlesey did not respond. There were many controversies at the time as to what he had done, but records indicate that he said and did nothing. At least one surrender demand carried by an 18-year-old soldier, captured by the Germans and then released to carry the message, said "the suffering of your wounded men can be heard over here in German lines, and we are appealing to your humane sentiments to stop. please treat (the messenger) as an honorable man. He is quite a soldier. We envy you." The same memoir states that Whittlesey wrote in his official Operations Report in capital letters, "No reply to the demand to surrender seemed necessary." [1]

The attacks to relieve the "Lost Battalion" Edit

While Whittlesey and his men tenaciously defended their position, their parent 154th Brigade and the entire 77th Division launched a ferocious series of attacks to get to them. But with each attack, these efforts grew weaker and weaker as the combat power of the 77th ebbed. In the first 4 days of these attacks, the rest of the 308th infantry alone lost 766 men. [14]

The news of the Lost Battalion's dilemma reached the highest levels of AEF command. While the 77th's power ground down, a powerful U.S. force under General Hunter Liggett's I Corps (United States) was being put together. The veteran 28th Infantry Division was oriented to reach Whittlesey and the fresh 82nd Infantry Division was moved to reinforce the 28th's flank. Meanwhile, Pershing ordered Liggett reinforced by the 1st Infantry Division "The Big Red One" which had received some replacements and some rest after St Mihiel.

Observing the movement of the 1st Division, the Germans ordered a Prussian Guards Division to reinforce their forces in the sector. (p343) [ clarification needed ] The Germans also sent an elite battalion of "Storm Troopers" reinforced with flamethrowers to aid the Germany Infantry attacking Whittlesey.

For the next few days, the Pocket held firm and the powerful American attacks started to push the Germans back and the 77th Division was now trying to infiltrate troops into the pocket.

Whittlesey, meanwhile, asked for a volunteer to sneak through the lines and lead back help. Private Abraham Krotoshinsky undertook this mission and skillfully left the pocket by a circuitous route to the north which ultimately led to an infiltrating company of the 307th Infantry. Krotoshinsky acted as a guide to lead this group to help rescue the trapped company and establish a route for further fresh troops to come into the pocket. So on 8 October, the 77th relief force had linked up with Whittlesey's men. Immediately upon their relief, Whittlesey was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

Aftermath Edit

Of the over 500 soldiers who entered the Argonne Forest, only 194 walked out unscathed. The rest were killed, missing, captured, or wounded. Major Charles White Whittlesey, Captain George G. McMurtry, and Captain Nelson M. Holderman received the Medal of Honor for their valiant actions. Whittlesey was also recognized by being a pallbearer at the ceremony interring the remains of the Unknown Soldier. [ citation needed ]

Former Major League Baseball player, and Captain in the 77th Division, Eddie Grant, was killed in one of the subsequent missions in search of the battalion. A large plaque was placed in the center-field wall at the Polo Grounds New York in his honor.

Brigadier General Billy Mitchell wrote after the rescue that the Germans had managed to prevent supplies being air-dropped to the battalion. He ordered: [15]

. chocolate and concentrated food and ammunition dropped. Our pilots thought they had located it from the panel that it showed and dropped off considerable supplies, but later I found out they had received none of the supplies we had dropped off. The Germans had made up a panel like theirs and our men had calmly dropped off the nice food to the Germans who undoubtedly ate it with great thanksgiving.

Several members of the Lost Battalion portrayed themselves in the 1919 feature film The Lost Battalion, directed by Burton L. King. [16]

A&E made a 2001 film about the event, The Lost Battalion. [17]

Swedish power metal band Sabaton made a song about them titled "The Lost Battalion" in their 2016 album The Last Stand.

In the video game Call of Cthulhu the main character Edward Pierce is mentioned as being a veteran of the lost batalion, and he suffers from post-traumatic-stress-disorder as a result.

  • Maj. Charles W. Whittlesey (Commander, 1-308th Inf )
  • Capt. George G. McMurtry (Commander, 2-308th Inf)
  • Capt. Nelson M. Holderman (Commander, Company K, 3-307th Inf)
  • 1Lt. Harold E. Goettler (Pilot, 50th Aero Squadron)
  • 2Lt. Erwin R. Bleckley (Observer, 50th Aero Squadron)
  • Sgt. Benjamin Kaufman (Company K, 3-307th Inf)
  • Pvt. Archie A. Peck (Company A, 1-308th Inf)
  • Pvt. William Begley, Sgt. Raymond Blackburn, Pvt. George W. Botelle, Pvt. James W. Bragg, Pvt. Clifford R. Brown, Pvt. Philip "Zip" Cepaglia, 1Lt. William J. Cullen, Cpl. James Dolan, Cpl. Carmine Felitto, Pvt. Joseph Friel, Pfc. Jack D. Gehris, Sgt. Jeremiah Healey, Cpl. Irving Klein, Pvt. Stanislaw Kosikowski, Pvt. Abraham Krotoshinsky, Cpl. Leo J. Lavoie, Pvt. Irving Louis Liner, Pvt. Henry Miller, Cpl. James J. Murphy, Cpl. Holger Petersen, Pvt. Frank J. Pollinger, 2Lt. Harry Rogers, Cpl. Haakon A. Rossum, Cpl. Joseph C. Sauer, 2Lt. Gordon L. Schenck, Pfc. Irving Sirota, Pvt. Sidney Smith, Pvt. Albert E. Summers and 1Lt. Charles W. Turner, Pfc. Samuel D. Grobtuck, First Sgt. Herman J. Bergasse [18]

2nd Lt Paul Rutherford Knight also was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.


Watch the video: How a pigeon Cher Ami helped save the Lost Battalion WWI France BBC News - 21st January 2021


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