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Dead medium: Military Pigeoneers of World War Two: Message Holders
From: bruces@well.com (Bruce Sterling)

Source(s): War Department Technical Manual TM-11-410, "The Homing Pigeon." War Department, U. S. Government Printing Office, January 1945

page 42

"30. Message Holders

"Message Holder PG-67 consists of a body, cap, leg clamp, strap, and fastener (fig 23). The body, cap, and leg clamp are made of transparent plastic material."

(((bruces remarks: this ingenious device looks like a small three-ribbed drug vial. It is weatherproof. The cap, which is labelled "PG-67," comes off (unscrews?) from the top of the message holder. The bottom end of the vial has a semicircular leg-holder attached. The bird's leg is fitted into this semicircle, and a wide strap of sturdy fabric wraps both the leg and the vial. The fabric strap then snaps neatly onto the body of the vial with a common metal fabric-snap.)))

"a. To attach message holder to pigeon, place leg clamp of holder around the aluminum identification band on the pigeon's leg and secure strap by means of the fastener. The message holder must always be attached with the cap pointing in the direction of the pigeon's body. If attached with the cap pointing down it will interfere with the bird's walking. The aluminum bands must be loose enough on the pigeon's leg to allow the message holder to adjust itself to positions that will not interfere with the bird's flying. In emergencies, a message holder may be placed on each leg.

"b. Pigeons to be used for signal communication should be trained with the message holder attached to the leg to accustom them to carrying it. Pigeons should be distributed to combat troops, with message holders attached if it is known that the receiving troops have not had training or experience in handling the birds. (...)

"c. To remove a message from a pigeon, catch the bird after it has trapped; hold it in one hand, extend its leg, and remove the message holder with the other hand. Release pigeon in loft.

"d. When it is necessary for a pigeon to carry a message and as message holder is not available, fold message blank, attach it by looping ut arounf the leg band and tie its two ends together with a piece of thread or light weight string.

"*Caution: NEVER WIND a string or rubber band around a pigeon's leg* because it will stop the circulation and may cause the pigeon to lose its leg."

Bruce Sterling (bruces@well.com)