Secret Code Found on Dead Pigeon

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Wife of the First Lord of the Admiralty thanks a War Pigeon – 1944

BBC News reports on 23 November 2012 that a dead pigeon with a secret code attached to its leg has been found in a chimney in Surrey. A red canister was found fastened to the WW2 carrier pigeon and inside the container was a piece of paper containing the code. The cipher was sent off to the intelligence service GCHQ but they have been unable to make sense of what the 27 blocks of code mean and so they have asked the public for help.

Sadly Pathé are unable to help on that front. However, we thought it a good opportunity to pay tribute to these army carrier pigeons who were extensively used as military messengers during WW1 and WW2.  Over 100,000 pigeons served Britain in WWI and over 250,000 served the UK in WW2. These winged warriors were used for their homing ability, rapidity and elevation to carry important information from behind enemy lines.

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WW1 Army Pigeon

The most heroic pigeon during WW1 was Cher Ami. Despite being shot through the breast, Cher Ami still managed to deliver a message in his capsule and in turn saved 200 US soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division’s “Lost Battalion”.

GI Joe was an American hatched pigeon who carried a message through an artillery bombardment in Italy during the Second World War and consequently saved the inhabitants of Calvi Vecchia in Italy and the units of the 56th London division. The village was due to be bombarded by the Allied forces but the message that the British had captured the village, delivered by G.I. Joe, arrived just in time to avoid the bombing. G.I Joe’s tenacity, strength and bravery saved over a thousand lives. He was awarded the Dickin Medal, the Victoria Cross of the feathered world, in 1946. 

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G.I. Joe with his Dickin Medal

34 pigeons were decorated with the Dickin Medal and we have a few of the awards ceremonies within the archive. Watch Paddy and Gustav receive their Dickin Medal. Paddy was an Irish carrier pigeon and received the award having flown 230 miles across the English Channel in 4hrs55mins. He was the fastest pigeon to arrive back in England with news of the D-Day victory.

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Paddy and Gustav with their Dickin medals – 1944

Watch Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret despatch a homing pigeon. 

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Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret with a homing pigeon – 1943
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Pathé News on the Vietnam War

22nd November marks forty years since the first B52 bomber was shot down in the Vietnam War in 1972. Although we have no coverage of that particular incident, the anniversary has prompted us to search our archive and to take a look at our other footage of that controversial conflict. Here we present a brief summary.

The war was indeed divisive, as these images reveal. They are from the 1968 Vietnam War demonstrations held in Trafalgar Square, London. The clips can be found in this collection: Vietnam demonstrations British Pathé and the BBC also produced a brief summary of the demonstrations for our A Day That Shook The World series. The episode can be viewed here.

As well as the political situation in London, the British Pathé archive also holds combat footage, filmed with the American troops. This material is often forgotten, lost among the overwhelming amount of first and second world war coverage within the archive. Much the same can be said of our Korean War holdings (outlined here).

A B-52 bomber is loaded and takes off from a runway in Vietnam. Click the still to view the film.

The footage is wide-ranging. Included are political discussions and conferences, such as those held in the United Nations, between the different parties; the preparations for battle and the troops in their camps; Bob Hope entertaining the US soldiers; troops on patrol; bombs dropped and rockets being fired; Australian soldiers returning home; and general coverage of Vietnam, such as women working in a field and life in Hanoi.

Possibly also of interest are the A Day That Shook The World episode chronicling the French surrender at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and this broader Vietnam collection. More can be found simply by searching the website (a simple search for “Vietnam” reveals 321 clips!)

A somewhat random selection of stills from the footage provides a taste of what the archive has to offer:

An American ship fires two rockets. Click the still to view the film.
Bombs are dropped from US planes. Click the still to view the film.
Helicopters land.
An injured guerilla is carried off on a stretcher by American forces. Click the still to view the film.
An American fighter takes off from an aircraft carrier. Click the still to view the film.
South Vietnamese troops on patrol. Click the still to view the film.
Nixon prepares to deliver a speech.
A normal day in Hanoi, 1974.

These clips serve as a reminder of that terrible waste of human life – the Vietnam War, 1955-1975.

You can view a selection of British Pathé’s Vietnam combat footage by clicking here or you can explore our broader Vietnam collection

Annus Horribilis: 20 Years On

Believe it or not, it has been twenty years since the Queen had her annus horribilis – that terrible year, 1992. Specifically, 20th November marks the anniversary of the Windsor Castle fire. It is interesting in the year of her Diamond Jubilee and blue sapphire wedding anniversary to look back on that difficult time for the Queen and the British monarchy in general.

Simpler times – the Royal Family at Windsor – before the divorces, scandals, and the “Annus Horribilis”.

“1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an Annus Horribilis.” This is what the Queen said in November 1992 after the Duke and Duchess of York separated, Princess Anne got divorced, and Windsor Castle went up in flames. And that was not even the end of it, for in December, the announcement was made by John Major to the House of Commons that Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, were separating too.

Although these events occurred decades after the final British Pathé newsreel was released (see this blog post), they are succinctly summarised in the BBC/British Pathé co-production, A Day That Shook The World. The relevant episodes, narrated by John Humphrys, are: British Royal Family in Crisis, Windsor Castle Damaged by Fire, and The Prince and Princess Separate. Click the links to view the films.

Things would not improve for the Queen in the following few years. With the death of Diana, the monarchy’s popularity declined. Again, these tragic events are covered in A Day That Shook The World episodes, on the car accident in Paris and the funeral.

And yet, in 2012, the monarchy is incredibly popular. The Queen had her Diamond Jubilee this year and the entire country came out in support and celebration. Popularity ebbs and flows.

And the Queen’s personal life must be happier too. Prince William and Kate are a popular couple, Charles and Camilla are married and, by and large, accepted by the public, and the 20th November marks her 65th (blue sapphire) wedding anniversary – the same day as the devastating Windsor Castle fire. Their marriage has been a successful and supportive one. We offer our congratulations.

A happy marriage.
The Wedding Day in 1947.

On the occasion of the Queen and Prince Philip’s wedding anniversary, you can view the announcement of their engagement and the coverage of their wedding on the British Pathé website.

www.britishpathe.com

Days That Shook The World – 21st Century Pathé

A few years ago, what was then called “British Pathé News” began a production with the BBC called A Day That Shook The World. Two series were eventually made, the first narrated by John Humphrys, and they are available on our website to view (for free) in our programmes section. The last Pathé newsreel was released in February 1970, so this series and the associated series 20th Century Hall of Fame bring the archive beyond the twentieth century.

Topics covered by the series include September 11th, the Iraq War and the Capture of Saddam Hussein, the collapse of Enron, the Asian Tsunami, and the London Bombings. From this period, the series also covers the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla – not quite an event that “shook the world” but certainly an interesting one.

From the latter part of the twentieth century, the series documents the impeachment of President Clinton, the death of Diana, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first Gulf War, Chernobyl, and the Falklands Crisis. Prior to that we are in classic Pathe territory, with episodes succinctly summarising key events using Pathe footage that was captured at the time – the Somme, Hiroshima, Queen Victoria’s funeral, to name but a few. The series therefore acts as a useful entry point into an archive of 90,000 clips to wade through.

Martin Luther King is the subject of an episode. Click the still to watch the film.
The moon landings are covered in an episode. Click the still to view it.

You can view the entire A Day That Shook The World series by clicking http://www.britishpathe.com/programmes/day-that-shook-the-world or selecting the link below that you want:

Episode Title Date
1 Queen   Victorias Funeral 1901
2 The   Wright Brothers First Flight 1903
3 Emily   Davison Throws Herself Under The Kings Derby Horse 1913
4 Battle   Of The Somme 1916
5 Abdication   Of The Tsar Nikolas 1917
6 Irish   Free State Treaty Signed 1921
7 Suzanne   Lenglen Breaks Wimbledon Record 1925
8 Start   Of UK General Strike 1926
9 Charles   Lindbergh Flies The Atlantic Solo 1927
10 American   Golfer Bobby Jones Wins Grand Slam 1930
11 Hitler   Becomes German Chancellor 1933
12 Edward   VIII Abdicates 1936
13 Hindenburg   Airship Crash 1937
14 Hitler   Annexes Austria 1938
15 Germany   Invades Poland 1939
16 Evacuation   Of Dunkirk 1940
17 London   Blitz Begins On Civilian Targets 1940
18 Pearl   Harbour Attacked 1941
19 Battle   Of El Alamein Begins 1942
20 Fall   Of Stalingrad – German Army Surrenders 1943
21 D-Day   Landings 1944
22 Liberation   Of Paris 1944
23 Big   Three Meet At Yalta To Carve Up Post-War World 1945
24 Germans   Surrender To Montgomery 1945
25 VE   Day Celebrations 1945
26 First   Atomic Bomb Test In New Mexico 1945
27 Labours   Landslide Election Win 1945
28 Atomic   Bomb Dropped On Hiroshima 1945
29 India   And Pakistan Gain Independence 1947
30 Berlin   Airlift Begins 1948
31 Maos   Communists Take Over In China 1949
32 Korean   War Starts 1950
33 Britain   Explodes First Atomic Bomb 1952
34 Launch   Of First Nuclear Submarine 1954
35 Roger   Bannister Breaks Four Minute Mile 1954
36 French   Surrender At Dien Bien Phu 1954
37 Le   Mans 24 Race Disaster 1955
38 Khrushchev   Denounces Stalin 1956
39 First   Nuclear Power Station 1956
40 Soviets   Crush Hungarian Revolt 1956
41 Suez   Invasion 1956
42 Manchester   United Players Die In Munich Air Crash 1958
43 Peles   World Cup Final Performance Thrills Crowds 1958
44 First   Hovercraft Run 1959
45 Kennedy   Inauguration 1961
46 Yuri   Gagarin Becomes The First Man In Space 1961
47 Erection   Of The Berlin Wall 1961
48 Cuban   Missile Crisis 1962
49 Martin   Luther King Delivers His “I Have A Dream” Speech 1962
50 Kennedy   Assassinated 1963
51 Beatles   Return From States In Triumph 1964
52 Aberfan   Slag Heap Buries School 1966
53 Donald   Campbell Dies In Bluebird Crash 1967
54 Six-Day   War Begins 1967
55 Grosvenor   Square Anti-Vietnam Riots 1968
56 Paris   Riots – France Comes Close To Revolution 1968
57 Soviets   Put Down Prague Spring 1968
58 Concorde   Flies For First Time 1969
59 Armstrong   Sets Foot On The Moon 1969
60 Bloody   Sunday In Northern Ireland 1972
61 Nixon   First Us President To Resign 1974
62 Ayatollah   Khomeini Returns From Exile 1979
63 Lord   Mountbatten Assassinated By IRA 1979
64 British   Sas Storm Iranian Embassy In London 1980
65 British   Task Force To Sail For Falklands 1982
66 HMS   Sheffield Sunk In Falklands War 1982
67 IRA   Bombs British Cabinet At Brighton 1984
68 Ethiopian   Famine – BBC Reports Spark Huge Response 1984
69 Heysel   Stadium Riots 1985
70 Challenger   Spacecraft Explodes 1986
71 America   Attacks Libya 1986
72 Chernobyl   Disaster 1986
73 Zeebrugge   Ferry Disaster 1987
74 Lockerbie   Pan-Am Jet Explosion 1988
75 Exxon   Valdez- Worlds Worst Oil Spill 1989
76 Hillsborough   Football Stadium Disaster 1989
77 Tiananmen   Square Massacre 1989
78 Berlin   Wall Comes Down 1989
79 Official   End Of The Cold War – Bush/gorbachev Agree To Deal 1989
80 Ceausescu   Overthrown 1989
81 Nelson   Mandela Released 1990
82 Iraq   Invade Kuwait 1990
83 Thatcher   Falls From Power 1990
84 Desert   Storm – Gulf War 1990
85 Soviet   Coup Failed 1991
86 Maastricht   Treaty 1991
87 Los   Angeles Race Riots 1992
88 British   Royal Family In Crisis 1992
89 Windsor   Castle Damaged By Fire 1992
90 The   Prince And Princess Separate 1992
91 Arab   Israeli Peace Agreement 1993
92 Yeltsin   Crushes Political Rebels 1993
93 Bosnian   Crisis 1994
94 Barings   Bank Collapses 1995
95 150   Die In Oklahoma Terrorist Attack 1995
96 Dolly   The Sheep Clone Unveiled 1997
97 Princess   Of Wales Dies In Paris Car Crash 1997
98 Death   Of Mother Teresa 1997
99 Funeral   Of Diana, Princess Of Wales 1997
100 Hurricane   Mitch 1998
101 President   Clintons Impeachment 1998
102 NATO   Bombing Of Chinese Embassy, Belgrade 1999
103 The   Millennium 2000
104 Deciphering   Of The Human Genome 2000
105 Concorde   Crash 2000
106 September   11th 2001
107 Ipod 2001
108 Battle   Of Tora Bora 2001
109 Fall   Of Iraq 2003
110 Saddam   Capture 2003
111 Beslan   School Siege 2004
112 Orange   Revolution (Ukraine) 2004
113 Asian   Tsunami 2004
114 Kyoto   Agreement 2005
115 Pope   John Paul II Dies 2005
116 Charles   And Camilla 2005
117 Super   Jumbo Airbus 2005
118 London   Awarded 2012 Olympics 2005
119 London   Bombings 2005
120 Hurricane   Katrina 2005
121 Israeli   Invasion Of Lebanon 2006
122 Collapse   Of Enron 2006

British Pathé Picks: Nov 2012

Every now and again there are some important anniversaries that are worth blogging about. As it happens, there are four all coming up in the next few days. So here’s some relevant links that may be of interest to you.

Battle of the Somme (18th)

In a few days it will be the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme coming to an end. Our First World War Somme collection contains some very good material.

Key Turning Point in WW2: Operation Uranus  (19th)

On the 19th of this month it will be 70 years since the Soviet Union began Operation Uranus, part of the Battle of Stalingrad. British Pathé’s material on Stalingrad can be found here.

65th Wedding Anniversary of the Queen and Prince Philip (20th)

On the 20th November, the royal couple will celebrate their wedding anniversary. British Pathé was there to announce their engagement and to document their wedding.

Interestingly, it is also the anniversary of the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992 – it’s been a whole 20 years since the Queen’s “annus horribilis”. We have some episodes of A Day That Shook The World that cover this dreadful year for the royal family. As well as the Windsor Castle Damaged By Fire, there’s the Prince and Princess Separate, and the Royal Family in Crisis.

Tomb of Tutankhamun opened (26th)

On 26th November 1922, the archaeologist Howard Carter entered the tomb of the famous Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. British Pathé has some shots of Carter at the tomb, as well as of the treasures found within. Our Tutankhamun collection can be found here.

Visit www.britishpathe.com for more films.

The Pathé Animation Archive

As well as producing regular news stories, British Pathé often included additional forms of entertainment mixed in to add a bit of variety. These pieces could be more comedic or quirky in tone, such as the Pathé Pictorial series, or entirely fictional pieces such as Dave and Dusty. In the early days, they also produced some animated shorts. In the late 1910s, there was a series of John Bull cartoons, which sadly we cannot find in the archive. There was also, most notably Jerry The Troublesome Tyke and the somewhat similar Adventures of Pongo the Pup, both from the mid-1920s.

Jerry was a cartoon dog from the silent era who actually “worked” for Pathe News.
“The Adventures of Pongo the Pup!” Classic animation from the 1920s.

The archive also contains a great deal of other animated productions and series. But of immense interest are the war propaganda shorts, particularly the marvellous “Britain’s Effort“, made by Lancelot Speed, but also the Sinking of the Lusitania and the brief Star-gazer, a still of which is below.

A still from “Run Adolf Run” from 1940.

The Pathé Animation archive also contains plenty of educational and information cartoons, such as this Ministry of Information film “Peak Load Electricity from 1943. Plus, there’s a lot of fun John Noble shorts and film of cartoonists at work. Pathé had fun with its shorts by showing the animators interacting with their creations, sometimes (in the case of Jerry), arguing with them.

Still from Ministry of Information trailer “Export or Die”, 1944.

So there’s a wealth of different styles and genres within the archive to explore. We’ve presented just a taster of them here, in our efforts to promote aspects of the archive which have been somewhat neglected by the understandable focus on Twentieth Century politics, royalty, and the two world wars. For an introduction to “Alternative Pathé”, read our previous blog post, “That’s all very well, but what has the Pathé archive got for ME?”

To search our Animation Archive, click here.

Pathé’s Hidden Treasures

“That’s all very well, but what has the Pathé archive got for ME?”

It can be tempting to think of the British Pathé archive as being only of interest to those with a passion for the history of the Twentieth Century. After all, the bulk of the footage comes from around 1914 to 1969 – the earliest clip in the archive is from 1895 (New Blacksmith Shop) with the most recent material contained within a BBC/British Pathé co-production covering the collapse of Enron in 2006 – but there is in fact plenty for those with a preference for other historical periods, or those who have specialist interests, to explore. The Pathé archive isn’t all about the Queen and British politics.

An obvious starting place for those with an interest in history prior to the Twentieth Century, is the archive relating to Ancient Egypt. We have footage of Howard Carter in front of the tomb of Tutankhamun, as well as shots of the treasures found within. (Visit our Tutankhamun collection here.)

Howard Carter at the tomb of Tutankhamun.

But as well as that famous pharoah and his discoverer, our extensive archaeology archive (click here) contains coverage from all parts of the world. You’ll be able to see Tudor and Roman Britain excavations, tour Pompeii, the Middle East, and dive the oceans to explore shipwrecks.

It’s true that none of these clips are necessarily going to help you study these periods (unless you want to look at how they were portrayed in the Twentieth Century), but they are surely of interest. What Egyptologist wouldn’t marvel at seeing Carter at the tomb, or the glistening treasures on display?

There’s also stuff for people who don’t even like history (if such people exist). Here we present just a few ideas for exploring the archive for those with specialist interests.

A still from the series Secrets of Nature.

Fascinated by science, animals, or insects? Try the classic Secrets of Nature – it covers the amazing life-cycles of plants, via some stunning microscope photography, as well as detailing the lives of many species of animals, birds, and insects.

Haven’t travelled enough? Take the cheap option and travel the world through British Pathé’s collection of travelogues. Escape the humdrum of everyday life with these clips (for the most part in colour) of numerous sites – from the ancient cities of Jerusalem, Rome, and Thebes, to the culturally rich capitals of Paris and Moscow, to the childish delights of Disneyland in sunny California.

Like animation? See Jerry the Troublesome Tyke, a classic animated series from the silent era, addictive due to its immense charm and wealth of humour.

What about music? We’ve got the Rolling Stones! Or visit our Beatlemania archive.

The Power of Nature.

Interested in the power of nature? Watch volcanoes explode, the earth shake, and rocks tumble in this collection.

Want to see an eclipse? Look at these: http://www.britishpathe.com/workspaces/show/jhoyle/hgG61kma/thumb

Always wanted to be an astronaut? Rewatch the moon landings or other significant events from the Space Race in our collection.

Or just want to pass the time with some wacky stuff? We’ve got a collection of crazy inventions, or just try searching for something. The still below is from our “Robot Boy” video, which has been popular recently. We found it by accident when looking for something else.

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/robot-boy

So search the archive for hidden gems at www.britishpathe.com. There’s 90,000 clips with something for everyone! Thought of some topics we’ve missed? Leave us a comment below. Happy searching!