Pigeons have been used to carry messages and perform reconnaissance during war since ancient times. Homing pigeons are able to return to a home base from anywhere. These pigeons were extremely useful as message carriers during both World War I and World War II. European armies were already relying heavily upon carrier pigeons at the start of the First World War in 1914. The United States, however, did not have a carrier pigeon program. General John Pershing ordered the Army Signal Corps to develop such a program and begin use of the pigeons to carry messages. More homing pigeons were utilized during World War I than in any other time in military history because of the lack of radio technology.
During World War II, armies used homing pigeons to deliver messages and take pictures of enemy territory. Even though the radio served as the major means of communication, carrier pigeons allowed armies to send messages with less chance of enemy interception or interference. Spies also used carrier pigeons to send messages from behind enemy lines. The United States ended the homing pigeon division of the Army Signal Corps in 1956.
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