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The Flying Heroes - The True Story
"Valiant” tells of the adventure of a little wood pigeon who becomes a hero in World War II when he joins Great Britain's Royal Homing Pigeon Service, an organization that advances the Allied cause by flying vital messages regarding enemy movements across the English Channel, while evading attacks by the enemy's Falcon brigade.

In reality, fiction is based on fact: pigeons have long been used to carry messages in war situations, including during both World War I and World War II. Many pigeons delivered messages that saved human life, and large numbers of them died in the attempt. Some were awarded the Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, to recognize their bravery and contribution.

Two animal organizations, The Amalgamation of Racing Pigeons and The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), were instrumental in providing support and reference to Vanguard Animation during the creation of "Valiant.”

They retold stories of the activities of pigeons in war and provided the opportunity for the animators to visit pigeon lofts, where they could examine the birds, study their behavior and record those behaviors to reference during the production.

Derek Partridge, co-founding member of the Amalgamation of Racing Pigeons, an organization attached to the National Pigeon Service which did such an outstanding job during the war said: "We were keen to help the production by giving them a true reflection of what pigeons achieved in war time. Many people today who have not been to war know nothing about how pigeons were instrumental in saving so many lives.”

The military divisions of the Army, Navy and Air Force all used pigeons to relay important messages. When in difficulty, the forces would either attach these vital messages to the pigeon's leg or place them in capsules attached to their backs. They could then release the birds, knowing that they would use their homing instincts to find their way back to base.

The PDSA presented the filmmakers with a copy of the Dickin Medal. It was given a place of honor in the studio so that all the animators could feel the reality of the story and to remind them that during the war, these little birds really did complete brave and amazing journeys.


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