Pigeon Post – communication in WW1

7 June 2016

Pigeon Post – a look at communication in World War One.

ERM (Eastern Region Media) a Community Interest Company based in Norfolk are thrilled to announce that they are the recipients of a £9,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through the First World War: Then and Now programme.

Thanks to National Lottery players, ERM will be working with Attleborough Academy, Fairland Residential Care Home and the wider Attleborough community on a series of events to mark the centenary of the First World War.

Izzy Mair of Attleborough Academy said “This will be ideal, as the objective is for students to develop life attributes, in particular leadership, communication, resilience, organisation and initiative, which the project will aim to do. In addition, it will give the students the opportunity to meet and interact with older people within the local community as well as an appreciation of how things were in times gone by”.

Fiona Muller of ERM added “We will be looking at how people communicated in a pre-digital age, no smart phones, texting or FaceBook. I am sure this will be a revelation to the young people. We are introducing them to pigeons who carried vital and often secret messages from the front-line”.

Tim Edwards, also of ERM, ran through the events, “On Friday 24th of June at The Connaught Hall in Attleborough we have arranged a free talk by local historian and author, Neil Storey. He will discuss the different modes of communication available at the time of WW1. Then on Tuesday 28th at Attleborough Academy the group of young people will meet a real homing pigeon in a talk with activities by The Royal Pigeon Racing Association’s Stewart Wardrop. We may even have one of Her Majesty’s pigeons from the Sandringham loft! The Academy will then visit Norwich Castle Museum and the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell to see artefacts from the period and gain an insight into life one hundred years ago.”

Communication, and the way that we communicate is an essential part of everyday life and this project sets out to discover how people 100 years ago contacted one another. Great leaps forward in technology were happening and these marked a change in formal (telegrams) communication to the leisurely use of telephones for example.

The aim of the project is to have the young people create a silent film, contemporary with the times, that tells the story of the importance of communication. This will be shown to the community at an event later in July where the young people will talk about their research findings on the period. A DVD of the activities will be available and an online version of the findings will extend the reach of this Attleborough based project.

Xenia Horne from AndAction productions has been working with a group of older people at Fairland Residential Care Home in Attleborough. They have been learning songs of the period and, with Xenia on the harp, they will create a musical accompaniment to the silent film. Also the Academy members will be talking to the residents about their use of communication – telephones, telegrams, letters – and the important roles these have played in their lives.

If anyone has an interesting or unusual mode of communication or a related story we would be very pleased to incorporate their story into our findings. Please contact ermcic@gmail.com if you would like any further information on these events, or the project as a whole.


Please email ermcic@gmail.com for further information.


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