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Summary

Written in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, WP & Me is a story relevant to our times in the COVID era and beyond. It follows a London family as they go through the ravages of war upon them. Standing in huge shopping queues outside stores, dealing with rationing, changes in the schoolyard or the workplace, travel restrictions, and an unruly media often confusing the population - all this they must cope with, not to mention the sense of fear everywhere. But instead of being asked to stay behind closed doors, families saw their men sent to fight.

Tommy and "Pigeon", two teenage brothers, begin their war trying to sign up for "the Pal's Army". Caught up in the general excitement that saw the coming war as "the big adventure", they want to fight for England on The Western Front. Everyone at first thought the war would be over by Christmas.

The older brother Tommy gets through to become one of 250,000 child soldiers who joined the British Army during World War I.

Pigeon is turned away by the army. London becomes a very different place to the home he knew. Marching soldiers fill the streets, to later be replaced bomb craters as German "Taube" fill the sky. More and more men volunteer for the forces - until in the end those who did not volunteer are sent to fight against their will.

One day Pigeon finds a wounded pigeon and takes to home. Once it is strong enough to fly he sadly sets it free, but it does not fly away. WP stays around his home. Over time Pigeon begins to raise a whole flock of pigeons as pets - but this is against war regulations. Will he be arrested as a spy?

Pigeon finds himself traveling across submarine endangered waters to France, serving as another underage soldier. Can his carrier pigeons make a difference to the outcome of the war? Will Pigeon ever find his older brother Tommy, who has gone Missing In Action?

Only by living through the reality of war, has Pigeon been able to fully appreciate peace.

©2018 TheManFromStoryMountain (P)2021 Adrian Beckingham

What listeners say about War Pigeons 1: WP & Me

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Poignant

Although I am not in the target audience for this book, I started to listen, quite fittingly, on Remembrance Sunday, and soon became enchanted by this story of 2 teenage brothers caught up in the horrors of the First World War. Told by Pigeon, named because of his crooked teeth and shape of his mouth, the story spans the whole of the war. Pigeon, too young at the start of the war, eventually ends up in France towards the end of the war with his beloved pet pigeons, helping to relay vital messages.

I became totally immersed in the story. I even learned a few things about the war which I hadn’t been aware of. At the end I’m not ashamed to say I shed a few tears. The book would make a great learning resource for schools as despite the horrors portrayed it is written with children in mind, but as an adult I loved it.

The narrator, Rafe Beckley, had exactly the right voice for the book and did a superb job.

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Excellent Story and superb narrator.

I listened to this with my 3 children aged 6-9 and we all loved it.
It's a story about WW1 but also about peace. It doesn't shy away from the horrors of the first world war, but it's written in a way that isn't scary, and it is informative and hugely interesting, as well as being a fantastic story.
It is also really child friendly as it's told through the eyes of a child.
I'd recommend this to any teachers who are teaching WW1 to use as a class book too.

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  • DabOfDarkness
  • 31-12-21

Pigeons! In WWI - fascinating!

I haven’t read a lot of WWI novels and never one that talked about the homing pigeons to this extent. Told in the voice of a teen boy, everything is presented in a simple, straight-forward manner. It made the book very accessible.

Pigeon has some messed up teeth and they kind of give him a little beak because his front teeth stick out funny. Even though the name was given to him as a joke, he swiftly adopted it and from there grew his love of real pigeons. He comes from a progressive family – his dad is a peace-loving vegetarian and his mom is an active member in the Suffragettes. As war breaks out, harsh slang against Germans swiftly become popular, but not in Pigeon’s house. They talk to their kids about how not all Germans are evil, like the kind bakery owners where they get their muffins. In some ways, this did make the atmosphere of the book a little too modern PC. I’m sure there were some people who were farther ahead on the enlightenment rainbow in London during WWI, but I often find that everyone has some foible. I was hard-pressed to find such foibles with Pigeon’s family, so that made certain interactions a little unbelievable.

This story really features the boys – Tommy and Pigeon. Both are underage for the military but both are tall for their age and the military is usually willing to turn a blind eye to the age requirement as long as the kids lie convincingly. Tommy makes it in and Pigeon doesn’t, because of his teeth. Seriously! I found that very interesting that they were concerned he would have serious problems with his teeth in the field, so no go for him. I learned many such interesting things from this story.

Since the boys didn’t want their parents to know they were trying to get into the military, they found a signup well from home and used fake names. Alas, this made it difficult to find their brother later. For me, this added suspense even tho I thought it was a little far-fetched. After all, Tommy is sending letters home. Wouldn’t he have signed his full assumed name at some point? Or wouldn’t it be on a return address?

I did love how the boys’ attitude about the war changes over time. It goes from a big party, something exciting and brave and daring to boring, miserable, and daunting. The government was doing their part to drum up support for the war, making it sound wonderful and like victory was just around the corner. So I can’t blame the impressionable young lads too much for their initial enthusiasm. The story also shows how Pigeon’s mom and other women are drawn into the war effort too, like working at the munitions plant.

There’s also this part about white flowers and cads. I hadn’t heard of this before either, but often women (who weren’t allowed to serve in the military) would present eligible males with white flowers and taunt them for being cowardly cads for not volunteering. Very interesting stuff.

Anyhoo, back to the war pigeons. Food is so scarce, people can be fined for feeding the birds. But Pigeon takes up raising pigeons anyways as a secret hobby. Eventually tho, there’s a great need for homing pigeons and pigeon keepers in the war effort. Pigeon is still underaged by the time he joins the fight. It’s all just as miserable as his brother said in his letters.

The tale ends with a big sense of relief that the war is over even as families mourn their lost ones. All told, it was an educational and entertaining read. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Rafe Beckley did an amazing job with this book. I adored most his pigeon impersonations. Yes, he actually makes distinctly different pigeon noises. I have no idea if they are accurate but it was a very nice touch. He had a great young man’s voice for Pigeon and distinct voices for all the characters. His female voices, tho few and far between, were believable. The pacing was perfect and there were no tech issues with this recording. 5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book. My opinions are 100% my own.

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  • Brad S Moore
  • 03-04-21

An honourable book.

This story touches the heart and teaches a lot of history about family life during the war.

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  • Barry T McCoy
  • 29-03-21

Great Book!!

A story for peace. As brilliant story for peace. Thank you so much Adrian Beckingham and Rafe Beckley.

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  • Christopher A Burbage
  • 29-03-21

Good history lesson.

This story will be a good history lesson for anyone interested in studying how domestic life changed for families in London during the First World War

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  • Margie Howell
  • 27-03-21

A TRIUMPH!

Because this story was worth the time to listen. Thank you author Adrian Beckingham and narrator Rafe Beckley for a solid job done in sharing so important and so moving a subject as WW1.

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  • Charles Quayle
  • 23-03-21

Great Book!!

A powerful war story suitable for older children which leaves the listener fully engaged. Thanks Adrian Beckingham and Rafe Beckley.

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  • Carlton Watkins
  • 21-03-21

LEST WE FORGET

A great and vivid story reminding us of the real values in life, and a call both for appreciation what those in the world war one went thru but also peace.

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  • Michael Beverly
  • 18-03-21

Striking, Apt, Fluid Storytelling

My young teenagers even listened through this audiobook with me. It is never easy getting them to focus but this audiobook was a popular choice. As a parent I like the positive morals in the storyline too. This is a sad story because its about World War 1, but one we nevertheless took a lot of positivity away from.

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Profile Image for Lora Nelson
  • Lora Nelson
  • 16-03-21

Pigeon Perfect!!!

I love animal based stories and was amazed by some of the cool stuff this story taught me about pigeons, like how they are reared and trained to home as pets, but also the amazing way their fathers teach them to fly, and how they carry a mysterious gift in navigation to always help them find where they are taking messages to. We could learn a lot about how to run our own communities, if we gave everyone an equal shift as leader, like pigeons do in their flocks. An extraordinary story, and I really felt part of family life in this story too.

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  • Kathy Medina
  • 15-03-21

Poignant!

This is a well written and researched story which helps readers/listeners better understand World War 1. The writing style and narration are both good quality productions.