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The Joe Murphy Column

Received a 1955 Homing World Stud Book along with a note from Gavin Russell of Buckie in Morayshire who has been in hospital due to a few heart problems being attended to and we wish him well. While in hospital he was reading some of these old books with this particular book very interesting as inside the front cover was the name J S Stratton who must have been a Fifer as there are some references to the Fife Federation within the book. I will cover this in more detail in the lead up to Christmas which is a quiet time and will help me keep my weekly article going and at the same time make if of interest to readers of the column. So thank you to Gavin for the book and hope I can discover more about Mr Stratton.

Young Bird Sickness

Had a conversation on the above subject with one of my friends Alex and we both agreed that we never had this problem years ago when the majority of fanciers fed farm grain. We would go and purchase Beans (sometimes the husks were also in the bag) wheat and barley from the farmer. Alex believes that now fanciers buy grain that is polished and this could be one of the reasons for young bird sickness as we do not know what they are putting on to clean the food. Another think that Alex has done in the past is give a small piece of Charcoal down the youngsters throat and he has not had young bird sickness since he has started doing this to his babies. Here are some thoughts for fanciers to mingle over and my thanks to Alex for his opinions and conversation.


This race as been going since 2008 and is a very good race in the fact that every race has been won on the day of liberation; it is also a chance for the members to commemorate the many thousands of Scottish soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War. Stefaan Van Moerbeke encouraged the SNFC to race from the town and presented trophies to the club. This year’s Ypres winner was Billy Bilsland of Ayton on the east coast of Scotland he won with his chequer white flight cock named ‘Welltower David’ wining the  Burgomeister Trophy presented by the Burgomeister of the town of Ypres and awarded to the winner of the race. Next we have the Dale Newcombe Trophy presented by his wife Karen in memory of this wonderful fancier and again it was presented to the winner of the Ypres race. Billy also won the Yearling Trophy for the 1st yearling plus this bird also 1st section B Trophy all to the national winner W L Bilsland of Ayton. Next we come to John R Bird of Prestonpans with his good hen ‘Peg’. This pigeon won 3 times in the SNFC during 2016 being 14th section B 63rd open from Buckingham a distance to 285 miles. A few weeks later ‘Peg’ won 15th section B 41st open from Littlehampton a distance of 370 miles and she was then sent across the English Channel to the Ypres race and she won 2nd section B 2nd open flying 428 miles. ‘Peg’ won the ‘Cher Ami Trophy’ for being 2nd open in the race and there is a lovely story attached to this trophy and I think it very appropriate to highlight it at this time (Amnesty Day) as many members may not know about this.

Cher Ami is stuffed and on display at the Smithsonian

‘Cher Ami’ (French for ‘Dear Friend’, in the masculine) was a homing pigeon who had been donated by the pigeon fanciers of Britain for use by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in France during World War I and had been trained by American pigeoneers. She helped save the Lost Battalion of the 77th Division in the Battle of the Argonne. On October 3, 1918, Major Charles White Whittlesey and more than 500 men were trapped in a small depression on the side of the hill behind enemy lines without food or ammunition. They were also beginning to receive friendly fire from allied troops who did not know their location. Surrounded by the Germans, many were killed and wounded in the first day and by the second day just over 190 men were still alive. Whittlesey dispatched messages by pigeon with the pigeon carrying the first message, "Many wounded. We cannot evacuate." was shot down. A second bird was sent with the message, "Men are suffering. Can support be sent?" That pigeon also was shot down. Only one homing pigeon was left: ‘Cher Ami’. She was dispatched with a note in a canister on her left leg, stating, ‘We are along the road paralell to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For HEAVENS sake STOP IT’

As ‘Cher Ami’ tried to fly back home, the Germans saw her rising out of the brush and opened fire. For several moments, ‘Cher Ami’ flew with bullets zipping through the air all around her. ‘Cher Ami’ was eventually shot down but managed to take flight again. She arrived back at her loft at division headquarters 25 miles (40 km) to the rear in just 25 minutes, helping to save the lives of the 194 survivors. In this last mission, ‘Cher Ami’ delivered the message despite having been shot through the breast, blinded in one eye, covered in blood and with her leg hanging only by a tendon. The metal case carrying the life-saving message was still attached to that dangling leg. The Allies stopped firing shells at the Lost Battalion, and they were eventually able to break out of enemy territory to safety.‘Cher Ami’ became the hero of the 77th Infantry Division. Army medics worked long and hard to save her life. They were unable to save her leg, so they carved a small wooden one for her. When she recovered enough to travel, the now one-legged bird was put on a boat to the United States, with General John J. Pershing personally seeing ‘Cher Ami’ off as she departed France. Upon return to the United States, ‘Cher Ami’ became the mascot of the Department of Service. The pigeon was awarded the Croix de Guerre Medal with a palm Oak Leaf Cluster for her heroic service in delivering 12 important messages in Verdun. She died at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, on June 13, 1919 from the wounds she received in battle and was later inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931. She was stuffed and is kept on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. She also received a gold medal from the Organized Bodies of American Racing Pigeon Fanciers in recognition of her extraordinary service during

World War I.

Continuing with the SNFC trophy winners the 1st section A trophy is won by Colin Beattie of Annan; 1st section C trophy won by Jocky Scott of Kennoway. 1st section D won by Lewis McCalley & Son of Avonbridge 1st section E won by John Lawrie & Son of Newmains 1st section F won by David & Robert Morris of Johnstone and 1st section G won by George P Taylor of Peterhead


Moving on to the last old bird national race from France the winner of the race was Jocky Scott of Kennoway who won with his blue tic eyed hen ‘My Gem’ this pigeon has already won 3 times in the Scottish National being 108th section C 322nd open from Maidstone in 2013 flying a distance of 376 miles. She went back the following year to the same race point and improved her position by winning 33rd section C 149th open. Last year she competed from the Eastbourne race (Ypres was cancelled due to the national not being able to go over the channel) and she won 165th open (no section prize) flying 402 miles but then she has come up trumps by winning 1st open Scottish National to win the T Dickson Memorial Trophy (he was past secretary of the SNFC), The Elinor Main Memorial Trophy,

and 1st section C Trophy all to Jocky Scott of Kennoway.


Roye SNFC Winner Jocky Scott (see text)          -          Ypres SNFC Winner Billy Bilsland (see text)

The Owen McIvor Memorial Trophy presented by his family to the 2nd open winner who also wins the 1st section B Trophy this was the father and son partnership of Sinclair Thomson & Son of Port Seton. Their 2 year old chequer hen won 4 times in 4 Scottish nationals this year being 286th open (no section prize) from Buckingham a distance of 286 miles; she then went to the Littlehampton national race and won 18th section B 45th open flying 370 miles. Then entered into the Ypres national race a distance of 428 miles to her home loft she won 15th section B 45th open and to crown off a great season she was then entered into the last old bird national from Roye a distance of 494 miles and she won 1st section B 2nd open to triumphantly be hailed ‘Scotland’s Bird of the Year’ in 2016’ winning the Scottish Homing Union ‘Dewar Trophy’. Other section winners were 1st section A won by Billy Van Nuil of Gretna. 1st section D won by John McNeill of Broxburn; 1st section E won by John Stokes of Carstairs; 1st section F won by Morris Brothers  David & Robert of Johnstone and 1st section G won by Alex Fulton and Andy Ritchie of Banff.

Good SNFC Birds

Our next pigeon to win is a cock who has won 3 times from Ypres and twice from inland nationals. His number is SU12P 4830 and he is down on the national results as a chequer, a chequer pied, a slatey and a mealy cock  regardless of his colour he is raced by lady fancier Karen Newcombe of Macmerry in East Lothian. As a yearling the mealy cock won 6th section B 11th open Ypres flying 426 miles the following year he was again sent back to Ypres and won 44th section 70th open. Last year he was 15th section B 20th open from Billericay a distance of 330 miles. Then this year 2016 he won twice being 341st open from Buckingham a distance of 283 miles by winning 34th section B 64th open again from Ypres. I thought this cock had clinched his SNFC Silver Award but obviously Karen did not claim this award a good pigeon and entitled to some publicity.

Billy Bilsland of Ayton with blue bar hen NEHU13BOR 1752 named ‘Welltower Margaret’ after Billy’s sister, she was bred in 2013 with her sire a chequer cock who won 7th SNFC Maidstone in 2013 as a yearling. He was bred by Joe Gormley of Lenzie from his Super-Crack bloodlines. The dam of Welltower Margaret is ‘Welltower Isla’ winner of 1st open SNFC Leicester young bird national in 2012 and turning out to be an outstanding breeding hen. ‘Welltower Margaret’ was bred in 2013 and has won 8 SNFC diplomas and the amazing thing is she is only 3 years old. Her triumphant positions are as follows: In 2013 she obtained 16th section B 17th open from Leicester young bird national flying 228 miles. The following year 2014 she gained 13th section B 14th open from Maidstone a distance of 339 miles she continued her successful ways by winning 36th section B 61st open from Ypres a distance of 403 miles. In 2015 she collected 5th section B 5th open from Portsmouth a distance of 348 miles when Billy took the 1st x 6 open positions in the race. ‘Welltower Margaret’ continued on her winning ways by attaining 5th section B 7th open from Eastbourne 366 miles. This year 2016 she succeeded in winning 76th section B 217th open from Buckingham 270 miles then secured 11th section B 28th open from Littlehampton 354 miles. She finished off a triumphant year by winning 13th section B 23rd open from Ypres a distance of 403 miles. She has now triumphed from 7 different SNFC race points and is without doubt a very special pigeon and will win a SNFC Merirorious Inland Bronze Award for winning 5 times from inland national races as Billy did not claim it in 2016 however this wonderful hen could also win a SNFC Silver Award next year if she wins once more from a channel race. We wish ‘Welltower Margaret’ and Billy Bilsland all the best for the 2017 season.

Joe’s Joke

Bob, a 70-year-old, extremely wealthy widower, shows up at the Country Club with a breathtakingly beautiful and very sexy 25-year-old blonde-haired woman who knocks everyone's socks off with her youthful sex appeal and charm and who hangs over Bob's arm and listens intently to his every word. His mates at the club are all aghast. At the very first chance, they corner him and ask, 'Bob, how'd you get the trophy girlfriend?'   Bob replies, 'Girlfriend? She's my wife!'  They are knocked over, but continue to ask.’ So, how'd you persuade her to marry you?'
'I lied about my age', Bob replies...  'What, did you tell her you were only 50?'  Bob smiles and says, 'No, I told her I was 95.'


Please continue to keep the news flowing; to

Joe Murphy Mystical Rose Cottage 2 Flutorum Avenue  Thornton by Kirkcaldy KY1 4BD

or phone 01592 770331 or Email to joejmurphy1@gmail.com  


or log onto www.elimarpigeons.com www.fancierchat.co.uk www.pigeon-chat.co.uk and www.Pigeonbasics.com - Pigeon Racing the Basics!

 Who wish my weekly contribution portfolio on pigeon topics from Scotland

© Compiled by Joe Murphy




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