A rare second world war bravery medal is to be sold to the highest bidder in London tomorrow, shedding light on the secret work of an unusual British flying ace who operated deep behind enemy lines. Commando, a homing pigeon used by the wartime Air Ministry, received the Dickin Medal for gallantry under fire in getting vital information out of Nazi-occupied France. Regarded as the Victoria Cross for animals and birds, the medal is expected to fetch about GBP7,000 ($98,000) when it goes under the hammer at Spink, the London coin and medal auctioneers. Homing pigeons were carried on aircraft and ships to relay distress signals back to Britain, used by ground troops to send messages from the front and trained to work with Special Operations Executive spies in enemy territory. Richard Bishop, director of Spink's coin and medals department, said such was the importance of pigeons to the war effort that the Germans posted marksmen and falconers along the French coastline to bring them down. Only one in eight pigeons made it back safely. Many died of starvation after being stuffed into old socks and dropped for spies who never found them, some were brought down in bombing raids and others simply disappeared after losing their way. 'Commando, however, survived all his missions and was put out to stud after the war,' Mr Bishop said. The citation for Commando's medal mentions three missions 'above and beyond the call of duty' in which the bird was parachuted into France with agents in the summer of 1942 and sent back with messages contained in special watertight canisters strapped to his legs. 'Commando was sent with agents into occupied France and on each occasion returned with valuable information on the day of release...the conditions were adverse,' the citation said.