Do you believe even the smallest person – or animal – can make a difference?
Cher Ami proved they can.
It was 1918. Northern France. Allied soldiers were struggling to fight off German forces in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I. A group of American fighters led by Major Charles Whittlesey were trapped behind a hill as the Germans approached. After just one day, the number of men in the "Lost Battalion" had dropped from 500 to 200. Some of these deaths could be attributed to enemy forces, but many of them were due to a rain of bullets that the Americans could not place. They sent out many carrier pigeons to communicate the dire situation to their infantry, but the pigeons were shot down, one by one, victims of the fray.
They needed a miracle.
Whittlesey suddenly realized that the bullets were coming from the direction of the Allies. He attached one last message to the leg of his one last pigeon, named Cher Ami (French for "Dear Friend"), which read simply:
"We are along the road parallel 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven's sake stop it."
When Cher Ami took off, the Germans immediately fired on him. It was a full 25 miles to Allied lines, and Cher Ami flew nearly a half an hour through the rain of bullets in order to reach them.
He somehow made it through. But when he arrived, he was badly injured. He’d been shot in the breast, was blinded, and perhaps most shockingly, the very leg to which the crucial message was tied had been shattered by a bullet and was hanging by a ligament.
It was a miracle that both bird and message had survived the treacherous flight.
The Allied forces ceased fire, saving the remaining 200 soldiers of the Lost Battalion. Eventually, all the soldiers were able to escape enemy territory – they would later to go on to win World War I.
All thanks to the fearless efforts of one very brave pigeon.
Cher Ami stayed the course against all odds and saved 200 lives. That's why he's a Time Traveler Tours #HistoryHero.