Usage of Homing Pigeons for Military Purposes in Europe and Turkey during 19th and 20th Centuries
İstanbul Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Tarih Bölümü, İstanbul/TÜRKİYE
Keywords: Homing Pigeon, intelligence, the Ottoman State, Abdulhamid II
The pigeons, known to be used as communication tools all over the world before the invention of technological devices, were started to be used again in the second half of the 19th century, especially in Europe for military communication purposes. During the siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, the French had used homing pigeons (in Latin, Columba Livia Domestica) to communicate with Paris, and in the following years the European pigeon branches were included in the military units of European countries. The developments regarding military intelligence in Europe were spread to the Ottoman State, especially during the reign of Abdulhamid II., an Istanbul based pigeon system was tried to be established. However, the system of the homing pigeon was not implemented in the State despite the publication of a regulation in the last years of the Sultan’s reign. On the other hand, it was seen that different countries, mainly Russia, gathered intelligence through the pigeons within the Ottoman borders, and the state was trying to prevent these counter-intelligence activities. Both during the reign of Abdulhamid II. and thereafter -especially during the First World War- the Ottoman State’s security concerns were concantrated on the homing pigeons used by other countries. After the reign of Abdulhamid II., the Ottoman State continued to work on establish its own pigeon system. Works on the pigeon system has been maintained after the collapse of the Ottoman State and the Republic of Turkey has also made efforts to establish a military pigeon system.