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Radio-Controlled Pigeons Mooted by MI5

Pigeons are the ultimate survivors: fighting for scraps, living in squalid conditions, and constantly avoiding being kicked up in the air by children. So it seems only logical that they should have been signed up to the country's armed services.

Newly declassified documents reveal that British spy division MI5 toyed with the idea of creating 'radio-controlled' pigeons to use in the aftermath of the war. The idea came from the knowledge that pigeons' natural homing instinct is corrupted during sun spot years; times when the sun has increased magnetic activity and gives off radioactive particles. Taking that logic, they thought it might be possible to use electric beams to guide pigeons to where they wanted them, in order to carry out raids, or transport communications.

The plans were revealed in the post-war diaries of Guy Liddell, who was deputy director general of MI5, having discussed the idea with Captain James Caiger, the Army's 'pigeon expert' who ran their pigeon loft. It seems the plan was never brought to fruition; a shame, since a few extra squadrons of Trafalgar Square's finest would really have put the (evil) cat amongst the pigeons in the Battle of Britain.

[via Sky News]

Image: Rex Features