Originally posted 2018-10-10 13:41:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Robert Fryer was a sergeant in the Northumberland fuseliers. He did not die at war but survived.
Before the war he was a pigeon fancier. He had served as the secretary of the Seaton Delaval branch for over ten years. he was a judge at race meetings throughout the North of England. War came already a reservist at Tynemouth Garrison Artillary he helped develope a system along the coast of a pigeon service to relay messages.
Having originally joined up at the age of 36 he was promoted to acting Sergeant of the Royal Engineers and arrives in France March 1915. In July of that year he was reported as missing in Action then a few weeks later he was found and not missing in action.
Communications at the trenches was often non existant or very sparse.Getting information from headquaters to the battlefront and vice versa was a major headache. The lines were disrupted also and homing pigeons were used to try to fill the gap.
Having his skills recognised he was sent to the carrier Pigeon Service of the royal engineers with whom he sees service in France and Flanders on the Western front.
In a letter after the war he lamented about the conditions the birds had to go through and it makes heart rending reading.
When the birds got back from Passendale for example the had to be washed as they were covered in mud from the bombing and shelling. Often they were shell shocked by the noise of the guns and did not last long even with the tenderest of care.