There was an interesting battle going on during WWII, in the skies above England… and no, I’m not talking about the RAF vs. the Luftwaffe…

Back then, the British launched a very ambitious operation. They dropped thousands of homing pigeons behind enemy lines. The pigeons were in little crates, which, besides the bird, contained paper, and pen and a canister. Whoever found it was asked to fill out the questionnaire, roll it into the canister, attach it to the pigeon… and let it fly home, back to England, with the information. Sixteen thousand pigeons were dropped over France, Holland and Belgium. Something like 10% of them came back, many with useful information, detailing what life was like under German occupation, and indicating what they could about German troop movements. Some of these pigeons were so successful, over numerous trips, that they were decorated with medals. One directed a rescue crew to where a British bomber had ditched in the ocean. Another one saved more than 1,000 lives when it successfully delivered a message that a certain town had been re-captured by the British… a town that was about to be bombed.

The Germans quickly discovered this was happening, and started planting pigeons of their own, with a bit of a different questionnaire (and a pack of British cigarettes, to make it look legit), trying to sniff out local patriots to the allies.

Above and beyond that, the Germans had a little army of their own, trained Hawks and Falcons, whose job it was to take down the British pigeons. How has this not been made into a movie?

Our hero, the British pigeon, already battered and mangled, trying to fend off numerous attacks, struggling to get home… bleeding, missing the tip of one wing… suddenly spotted by a German Hawk… who, with his little goggles and leather helmet (emblazoned with a swastika) swoops down for the attack.. and just as he’s about to make contact, our hero pigeon crosses into British airspace where the hawk is instantly taken down by a sniper from MI14. Yes indeed, the British Secret Service set up a detachment, whose job it was to drive up and down the coast, monitoring bird activity and shooting down those killer German birds.

It’s an interesting little story, detailing one particular battle — amongst a sea of other battles — that constituted the Second World War. A small but important battle.

And that’s how it is with all battles, big or small. It’s not just one big fight. It’s lots of little ones, many of which we’ll never hear about… whether we’re fighting a World War, a virus, or an election… etc etc.

It’s something to consider for the near future, because lots of battles are heating up, and some of them, big and small, are going to get ugly. It’s important to consider their part in the bigger picture, not just the individual pieces… because in this era of self-serving propaganda and misinformation, many of these battles are, as they say… for the birds.

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