The story of the plucky little pigeon who survived 'the storm of the century'

The storm raged, but the plucky pigeon battled against the odds to reach home in the Black Country.

Racing pigeons used to be a popular hobby – these were being released in Shrewsbury in a race to South Wales.
Racing pigeons used to be a popular hobby – these were being released in Shrewsbury in a race to South Wales.

And when it did, people turned up from miles around as they couldn't quite believe that a bird could have survived "the storm of the century" of 1936 when so many others had died.

The story of the little red hen was told to Ray Edwards of Sedgley by his grandmother, and inspired him to write a poem commemorating its feat.

"It's a story I will never forget right up to my dying days," said Ray, who was born a year later, in 1937.

"My grandfather Luke Dunn lived at 62a William Street, West Bromwich, and like a lot of people in those days used to breed and race pigeons.

"A race had been organised from a town on the French mainland where the pigeons had to fly over land and sea. A little red hen had been chosen for this particular race by my grandfather. All the birds taking part were loaded aboard a transporter and then taken to their destination."

As the birds were released, the weather conditions were favourable, but as they reached the English Channel a terrific storm blew up, with driving wind and rain.

"My grandfather won the race with that little red hen. The bird flew through hell to get home. They called it the storm of the century. There were loads and loads of pigeons killed because of the waves – they fly low over the water.

"The morning after, my grandma said, the garden was packed with people coming to see the red hen. They couldn't believe it. The miracle of the age had now been accomplished by that little bird surviving that terrible channel crossing. Hundreds of pigeons had started the race but very few had made it back home.

Racing pigeons used to be a popular hobby – these were being released in Shrewsbury in a race to South Wales.

"This particular race was in 1936. My grandfather died in that year. I think the bird died roughly about 1940 to 1941."

When the bird died, it was buried in Luke's grave.

Being a racing pigeon, it never had a name and unfortunately a photo Ray has of his grandfather's son holding the little red hen and also a blue cock bird is too poor quality to publish.

And, sorry Ray, we can't publish all your poem, but we can get in the last verses:

"My grandfather died a short time after, and all his birds were sold. Except the little red hen who stayed, and died when she was old.

"Buried in a local churchyard, in a grave my granddad lay, his little hen lying beside him, and there they both shall stay.

"This incident happened in the past, about three score year and ten. A journey through life's fantasies, made by a little red hen. Flying through that storm to achieve, an almost impossible feat, Echoes of her heroic flight went, bandying around every street."

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News