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Hikers find a 100-year-old letter that a carrier pigeon lost

During World War I, soldiers used carrier pigeons to make sure their messages got through.

Photo by Giles Clarke / Getty Images

A couple was walking across a field in eastern France when it made a historic discovery. Jade Halaoui told the French newspaper “Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace” that he looked down and suddenly saw a tiny aluminum capsule sticking out of the ground. When he dug it up and opened it, he found a small fragile piece of paper written in handwriting, the newspaper reported.

Halaoui and his partner Juliette brought their find to the Linge Memorial Museum. The museum director was stunned. “When he described the find to me, I went nuts,” curator Dominique Jardy told the local newspaper. “It’s a rare find.”

In a photo in the French newspaper, Halaoui can be seen holding the capsule between forefinger and thumb – the capsule is only five centimeters long.

After translating and carefully examining the message, Jardy concluded that it was likely written by a Prussian infantry officer. According to him, the message was sent either on July 16, 1910 – before the start of the First World War – or in 1916 – while it was raging.

The message contained information about military exercises that, according to “Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace”, took place between Bischwihr in France and Ingersheim in Germany.

At the time, it was common for messages to be sent out about military operations using carrier pigeons as it was a safe means of transport. The message was written on four pieces of paper that were sent with four different birds to ensure delivery. Presumably this note was dropped by a carrier pigeon.

In a telephone interview with the New York Times, Jardy said that he suspected the message was sent before the war. He concludes on the basis of the language and the reference to a practice site. Over the coming winter, he wishes to investigate the news further.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in 40 years,” he told the Times. “It is a short report on a war simulation.” The paper is too sensitive to be displayed, but a copy will probably be shown, the curator told “Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace”.

This article was translated from English and edited by Ilona Tomić. You can read the original here.


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