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Haut-Rhin: lost by a carrier pigeon 110 years ago, a German military message resurfaces


An extremely rare discovery. No doubt lost by a carrier pigeon in 1910, a German military message miraculously resurfaced in Alsace where it was found by chance, we learned on Sunday November 8 from the curator of the museum to which it was entrusted.

The message, protected in “a small aluminum capsule”, was found by chance in September in a field of Ingersheim (Haut-Rhin) by a couple walking.

On the advice of relatives, the couple handed the capsule and its message to the Linge museum, located not far from the place of the find, explained Dominique Jardy, the curator of the Linge d’Orbey Memorial. This museum is dedicated to the battle between the French and the Germans in 1915 on the Alsatian side of the Vosges mountains.

Inside the capsule, a very well preserved handwritten message, written in German on a “kind of tracing paper”, in a writing close to Gothic and difficult to understand, explains Dominique Jardy, confirming information from the regional daily The Latest News from Alsace (article reserved for subscribers).

When the permanent [du musée] called me, I said: ‘P …!’ A find like that is extremely rare. In forty years, I have never seen this.

According to him, the capsule probably rose to the surface over time, as is sometimes the case with grenades or shells from the two world conflicts.

The museum curator appealed “to a German friend” in order to decipher the message: it was sent by an officer of a Prussian infantry regiment, then stationed north of Ingersheim, to a superior of the same regiment. The text evokes German maneuvers between Bischwihr and Ingersheim, at a time when Alsace was German.

A slight uncertainty remains on the date of sending of the message, in particular the year, the last figure being less readable: July 16, 1910 or 1916? 1910, cut Dominique Jardy, who judges “impossible that it was 1916”, even if verifications will be carried out.

The message and its transcription in German, photographed Sunday, November 8 in Munster (Haut-Rhin).  (SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

As for the message, it will undoubtedly be exhibited at the Musée du Linge, but under certain conditions (anti-reflective glass, airtight environment …) so that it does not deteriorate. Its place is very found: near a mannequin camping an officer of the same regiment as the one who wrote it 110 years ago.

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