Patriotic pigeon makes nest out of poppies stolen from war memorial

The mysterious disappearance of poppies from The Australian War Memorial has been solved after a pigeon was found to have built a rather patriotic nest on Remembrance Day.

Staff had been concerned when they noticed that poppies were going missing from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Canberra, until a maintenance worker spotted the nest in the Hall of Memory a few weeks ago.

Photographs show the pigeon proudly sat on its nest by the stained glass window of a wounded Australian solider in the mosaic-covered hall.

A war memorial spokesperson told The Canberra Times that the nest would be cleared once the pigeon has finished with it.

They added that the wounded soldier symbolised the quality of "endurance", and the nest of poppies was a "reminder of the powerful bond between man and beast on the battlefield."

Pigeons have been used regularly in warfare, including the First and Second World Wars, as a way of sending messages.

Historian Dr Meleah Hampton said: "Pigeons are particularly of use in warfare when you've got a couple of men trying to get a message from where they are back to the backline.

"A pigeon can get that through sometimes when nothing else can."

According to the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, in Britain alone nearly a quarter of a million pigeons were used by the Army, the Royal Air Force and civil defences services including the police and fire service during World War Two.

The Dickin Medal was inaugurated in 1943 to honour the work of animals in war.

According to Historic UK, 32 messenger pigeons have received the award, as well as 34 dogs, four horses and a cat.

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