Mary of Exeter
Mary of Exeter was a carrier pigeon who flew many military missions with the National Pigeon Service during World War II, carrying top secret messages across the English Channel back to her loft in Exeter, England. She was awarded the Dickin Medal in November 1945 for showing endurance on war service despite being repeatedly injured.
On one occasion she was attacked by German-kept hawks stationed in Pas-de-Calais returning home with wounds to her neck and right breast. She recovered sufficiently and was put back in service two months later.
On another occasion, Mary returned with the tip of one wing shot off and three pellets were removed from her body. She recovered, passed flight tests, was returned to service despite the shortened wing.
During her final trip her neck muscles were damaged by shrapnel. Her owner made her a leather collar to hold her head up, and took her out of service.
Mary’s loft, located at the Exeter home of a shoemaker named Charlie Brewer who had become a loft keeper and intelligence agent during the war, was damaged during the Luftwaffe's 1942 raids on Exeter, killing many of the pigeons housed there. Mary, however, survived.
She died in 1950 and is buried in Ilford Animal Cemetery.
[The pigeon depicted in the image above is not Mary (she can be seen here, looking unremarkably pigeon-esque), however, GI Joe up there better demonstrates what a pigeon looks like wearing a Dickin Medal - marvellous!]