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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

17th Signal Pigeon Service


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My Grandfather was a Dispatch Rider in the Signal Service. 


He entlisted in nov 1915 and fought in aprill 1917 in the Battle of Arras in the 17th Signal Pigeon Service.


I need help to know in which training center he was, before coming in France


Thank you in advance for help


Pierre from France

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There is a thread here dealing with motor cycle despatch riders. Likely that your subject had experience of these machines and was transferred to the RE because of that,taking the rank of Corporal for the task, and seemingly having minimal UK training:



There are a bunch of War Diaries covering signal pigeon service but not sure if all units are within the Diaires that I will quote:

WO95/123/ 4 is for 1915

                   5 is for 1916

                   6 is for 1917

                   7 is for 1918, and,

                 10 is for 1919

They are digital and will cost £3.50 each from the NAs Discovery database.


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Dear Maureene,

Dear Sotonmate,


Many thanks for your resonses I'll use to known more about Signal Pigeon Service.


Can you confirm me that a Signal Dépôt has been in Abbeville. If so, have you any information about this one.






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The first-mentioned war diary by the Officer Commanding the Carrier Pigeon Service in the list Sotonmate posted, mentions this:


September 11th, 1915:  Left for Abbeville, chose 5 Corporal Despatch Riders, for the 1st Army, 2nd Army and GHQ establishment, went on to Rouen, slept  there.  


This was the RE Signal Service Depot BEF. Signal Service men coming out from England would be sent their to await posting to particular units or  formations.


Just a thought about "17 Signal Pigeon Service" mentioned in your post, this may well have been 17 Corps who fought at Arras in 1917 as part of 1st Army .


With regard to training, after 1914 signal service motor cyclists were trained at Dunstable and from March 1918 at Wellingborough.





Edited by Terry_Reeves
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