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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Bird Scouts


Skipman

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I found this in the Perthshire Advertiser 24/7/1915 and thought it might be of interest.

" A soldier on short leave from the trenches tells how the winged friends of the Allies warn them of the coming of the clouds of poison gas, when the Germans attempt that mode of attack at night time. In daylight the approach of the deadly cloud is easily detected, but in the darkness of the night the coming of the gas is unseen. Then the birds come to the help of our soldiers. Long before the fumes can be detected in the trenches there is a great clamouring of birds awakened from their night perches. The birds fly away beyond reach of the fumes, but in the meantime the British soldier is prepared. "

Mike

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One would like to see some corroborative evidence to this story. One would think there would be more thuds of birds falling dead off their perches. Birds are generally more easily overcome than humans.

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One would like to see some corroborative evidence to this story. One would think there would be more thuds of birds falling dead off their perches. Birds are generally more easily overcome than humans.

Indeed, and happy for anyone to add any more examples. Is it not the case that animals in general have finer senses, and it seems perfectly plausible, to me, that birds might sense the danger, before they were overcome by it?

Mike

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One would like to see some corroborative evidence to this story. One would think there would be more thuds of birds falling dead off their perches. Birds are generally more easily overcome than humans.

Plenty of proof to be had with the use of canarys in mines. Before the poor blighters died they did become more aggitated, given they are in a cage they can't fly away from the danger the human is yet to detect. So a mass of birds in a tree flying away at night is very pausable.

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Plenty of proof to be had with the use of canarys in mines. Before the poor blighters died they did become more aggitated, given they are in a cage they can't fly away from the danger the human is yet to detect. So a mass of birds in a tree flying away at night is very pausable.

No proof at all totally different circumstances. The canaries died from the most minute quantities of gas (which was the whole point of using them) where is the evidence that they had time to become agitated?

Quite different from a rolling cloud of poisonous gas

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There's another interesting report in the Daily Mirror - Thursday 07 October 1915

Shrill Cries from Feathered Songsters Foretold Attack with Poison Gas
How the life of wild birds is affected by the war in Europe is the subject of some interesting stories told in the Bird notes and News, the quarterly journal of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. In many cases, both on land and sea, birds have been of direct help to the Allies. At sea our sailors have found gulls of considerable service, their presence over the water often helping them to sight the periscopes of submarines.
In Flanders the shrill cries of the birds and their excited behaviour have warned our soldiers against a coming poisoned gas attack. " Before the smell of the fumes can be perceived in the trenches....the soldiers are awakened to their danger by the noise of the birds who have detected the first fumes of the vile infection. " says the journal.
Mike
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Appears to be the same story repeated 3 times and the phrase "it is reported that" is concerning - by whom? In cases where industrial accidents have caused leakages of gas roosting birds in the vicinity are usually the first victims

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Who knows, maybe it will be mentioned in a war diary? If I find any other examples, I will of course post.

Quite happy for it to be proven as total b******s :thumbsup:

Mike

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Based on the date of the report (Jul 15) the gas involved is more than likely to be chlorine. Corroborative evidence of roosting birds being killed by accidental industrial chlorine leaks should help solve this debate.

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Surely most birds, if able to detect gas in cloud form, would be able to fly above it? Gas which is intended to poison humans needs to be heavy enough to hug the ground.

Ron

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Surely most birds, if able to detect gas in cloud form, would be able to fly above it? Gas which is intended to poison humans needs to be heavy enough to hug the ground.

Ron

I reckon so Ron. I dare say birds on the ground might have been affected, but did they sense the gas, and manage to escape it? I can readily believe they would, and if I can find any evidence, will post.

Mike

Mike

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