Nowhere, in thirty years of researching woody station wagons, have I ever come across the use of Woodys by the Pigeon Service of the United States Army. I recently acquired these two vintage images, described as pre-1930 Chevy wagons, Hercules-built, and belonging to the 28th Infantry Division Pigeon Service.
What was the Pigeon Service? A little research revealed that the United States Army Pigeon Service served in both WW-I and WW-II providing carrier pigeons for delivering messages. They were based at the Army Pigeon Breeding and Training Center at Fort Monmouth, NJ from 1917 until 1957. There were multiple Pigeon Services attached to infantry divisions, including the 280th at Camp Claiborne, LA, as seen in the photograph showing the rear view of the wagon with the tents and people nearby.
Their success rate was phenomenal with a 90% of messages being delivered during combat operations. During the WW-II, the Signal Pigeon Corps had over 3,000 soldiers, who had 54,000 pigeons at their command.
The station wagon was perfect for the job. It was quickly turned into a birdhouse on wheels; you can see that the back section is a screened enclosure. Canvas curtains dropped down to create a warm dark space for pigeons to sleep. It was efficient and mobile.
The two wagons are both, what I now believe to be, 1929 Chevrolets. They have either Springfield or Mifflinburg bodies (not Hercules) that are fully screened at the rear. I would hazard a guess that with a service as large as this, that there were dozens of these wagons around the country/world at one time. For more info on this unique branch of the military check out: