A PIGEON fancier is sculpting a memorial for the pigeons that acted as messengers during the war.

Neville Walbridge, 71, of Portland, will be creating a headstone that will list the names of the 32 pigeons that received the Dickin Medal – the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross – for their work in the Second World War.

Mr Walbridge, who worked in the masonry and sculpture trade for most of his life, said the headstone should be finished by the summer and he hopes it will then be placed in Bletchley Park, the National Codes Centre, near Milton Keynes.

The site race controller for the Royal Pigeon Race Association (RPRA) said he became interested in pigeons when he found one holding a secret message in his back garden in 1942.

He said: “I was about four years old when I noticed a pigeon walking about.

“He looked tired so I put him in the chicken pen and took care of him.

“My father noticed he had a cylinder on his leg, which is where the messages were kept, and he took him down to Portland dockyard where the commanding officer of the Navy took him away.

“I was upset at the time but when the war was over he brought me six pigeons.”

Mr Walbridge added: “If we want to send or receive secret messages there’s only one way of doing it and that’s through a racing pigeon.

“Every other method that is electronic can be tracked.

“The pigeons saved hundreds of people’s lives.”

Kelsey Griffin, director of museum operations at Bletchley Park, said: “A memorial to them is incredibly appreciated.”