The history of Belgium’s pigeon racing: The bombing of Bostijn - Moorslede (BE)

Moorslede’s Leopold Bostijn was the first to notice the breeding talent of the Stichelbauts. Even before the war he traded flax with them, but spent more time in the breeding cage than he did on the fields.

They even made up a contract to play together as soon as the war ended, but eventually no cooperation was realized. Bostijn bought a son of the Bleke and the Oud Zwart (his mother), whom he called Jonge Bleke. “He was a weak pigeon”, Paul said. “He had small shoulders, bad plumage and was worn out for his time. He was all used up”. As the Jonge Bleke was a wartime pigeon he soon went into the lofts. He didn’t get patched up and played and given a chance of winning a prize. Paul Bostijn would use him to breed with his best hens, of which some were purchased from Odiel Talpe from Dadizele nearby Moorslede. Odiel was a tobacco trader and had an entire loft full of Vanbruaenes. Even though the loft had a bunch of birds that were rubbish, there were still a few who did well. The best pigeons were Bolle and the Kleine, two half-brothers. The Bolle was born in ’44. During his six years of racing, he won several prizes north of Paris, some of which were very early: the 2nd national Libourne and the 3rd national Pau in the Entene Belge.

In ’48, his top year, he may even have been the best long distance pigeon in Belgium.

Pau’s “first four national”

On that memorable Pau of 1950 Bostijn put in six pigeons: the Zieke, the Bolle, the Blauwe, the Sjarel, the Kleine, and one newcomer that was to learn how to fly. That very day certain events would unfold that had never happened for as long as pigeon racing had existed. The following morning at half past 7 the Sjarel, a half Charles Vanderespt, returned from flight with the Kleine arriving only twenty minutes afterward. Next, the Bolle flew in not even ten minutes later, and fifteen minutes after the latter the Dulle Blauwen came in. These birds flew 1st  2nd  3rd  and 4th national, respectively. The 5th prize went to a pigeon of Cattrijse. That day I was taking care of a pigeon in Moere, one that flew for big prize money. Bostijn’s Zieke, a light checkered Tremmery, who one year before had won the 8th national of St. Vincent, still hadn’t returned home from flight. One hour later he came in wounded and bleeding from gunshot hail and almost without a tail: 34th national, that night he couldn’t have been far off.  And finally, the newcomer won the 110th prize, making the total 1, 2, 3, 4, 34 and 110 for six pigeons. Julia was speechless. Numbers 2 and 3 were sons of Stichelbaut’s Jonge Bleke. Together with pigeons of Cattrijse and Devriendt, Leopold Bostijn would create a new strain, one that was specially bred for long distance flights. The tougher, the better. Like no one before or after him, he would win a series of nationals in this specialty. 

Late one night just before a flight from the Pyrenees, Paul took a walk outside and looked up at a sky that was littered with stars. Satisfied with this pigeon weather he growled: “Tomorrow the Bostijns are flying, if they’re in good shape it’ll be a tough fight for our competition”. These words weren’t spoken by a novice, they were the thoughts and words of someone who knew pigeon racing unlike any other. He knew he had put too much time into his pigeons and too little into trading flax. He did not, however, regret any of it. If he could’ve redone his life, he wouldn’t have done it any different. If he had been a commercial trader, like Vanhee, and financially independent because of it,  no one would have ever been able to match him. He was a man of the class of Theo Vandevelde: a champion among champions!

The wonder pigeon ‘Benoni’

I will now give the pedigree and achievements of the infamous Bostijns of the ‘60s and ‘70s starting with the crack Benoni 62-3278267, meaning Benjamin. It is the name of the cyclist who by surprise beat Rik van Looy and became world champion on the road. I believe this to have been 1963. From the beginning Benoni was what they called him. It was as if Paul had some kind of premonition about the bird’s possible future victories. Benoni was also the name of the son of the Oude Valk, by many admired because of his intelligence and resourcefulness, which are very persistent hereditary features. Resourceful pigeons easily stay on course. It’s not just a pun when I write that the best pigeons are those that under any circumstance find their way back home. A pigeon like that was Bostijn’s Benoni.

Bostijn’s wonder couples

His father was the Schone Blauwe 62-3200581, a crossing of Devriendt and Cattrijse. His mother was a pigeon of the premium class 59-3379965. She was the daughter of the Goede Blauwe Libourne of Labeeuw 47-30815354, with a granddaughter of the Charel Bostijn: 1st international Pau 1950. He was publicly auctioned to Mr. Xavier Dumont de Chassart in Brussels. I had done a nomenclature of the auction and recommended the Bolle - instead of the Dulle Blauwen - to Jean de Somer in Turnhout. This happened during the tense period of the Korean War, at a time when general Mac Arthur was determined to drop atom bombs on Korea.

Benoni 62-3278267 won: 57 Dourdan 604 pigeons, 10 Clermont 420, 29 Clermont 377, 1st Dourdan, 2 Clermont 375, 14 Dourdan 322, 35 Dourdan 861, 8 national Limoges 2,862 pigeons, 62 national Perigeux 2,542 pigeons, 9 national Perigueux 2,369 pigeons, 93 national Libourne 609 pigeons, 50 national Montauban 966 pigeons, 175 national Brive 3,080 pigeons, 118 national Montauban 1,145 pigeons, 97 international Bordeaux 1,619 pigeons, 35 national St. Vincent 3,115 pigeons, 30 Dourdan 376, 35 national Brive 2,876 pigeons, 1international Pau 1,401 pigeons. Ten times he was able to finish among the first hundred national, of which thrice among the “first ten” and gathered approximately 430,000 franks.

Non-stop winners


Pasport 57-3296047

His father was a son of the Ijzeren 724 of Descamps-Vanhasten. His mother was the famous hen 700 checkered with white feathers, full-blooded sister of Benoni. Named Pasport after a French racehorse. He was the property of a brother of Bostijn and won: 5 Chateauroux 803 pigeons, 58 national Brive 2,876 pigeons, 3 international Pau 1,401 pigeons, 11 international San Sebastian 924 pigeons, 9 national San Sebastian, 37 international Pau, 18 international Biarritz. He won hundreds of thousands of franks.

The Kousse

Is a brother of Pasport, and thus has the same mother, the 700.

The Kousse won: 6 national St. Vincent 2,645 pigeons, 12 international Pau 1,232 pigeons, 10 international Biarritz 987 pigeons, 15 international Pau 1,416 pigeons. He alone covered 360,000 franks.

The Cahors 68-3321158

Won: 17 Dourdan 661 pigeons, 67 Chateauroux 1,605 pigeons, 68 national Angouleme 1,506 pigeons, 26 national Cahors 1,076 pigeons, 54 national San Sebastian 778 pigeons, 4 Dourdan 554 and 3 international Pau 1,416 pigeons.

The 123 68-3321123

The 123 was a full-blooded brother of Benoni, cf. supra; he won 87 national Angouleme 1,506 pigeons, 67 inter prov. Angouleme 1,084 pigeons, 36 idem Angouleme 823 pigeons, 54 national Brive 2,836 pigeons, 72 inter prov. Angouleme 649 pigeons, 27 idem Angouleme 664 pigeons, 80 national Tulle 1,693 pigeons, 2 national St. Vincent 2,765 pigeons.

The Bill

The Bill was the strongest flyer when there wasn’t much ground to be covered.
Ring 72-3282555: 2 national Cahors 2,825 pigeons, 15 national Montauban within a fortnight, both at speeds of 900 meters per minute and at extremely warm temperatures, 54 interprov. Poitiers 2,286 pigeons, 53 national Tulle 3,148 pigeons, 37 national Cahors 4,372 pigeons, etc. The Bill was only a little guy and didn’t weigh much either.

The Ruffec 69-3180023

The Ruffec was 50% Cattrijse: 24 Clermont 1,717 pigeons, 11 interprov. Tours 1,105 pigeons, 33 Chateauroux 1,381 pigeons, 58 Poitiers 1,305 pigeons, 1 national Ruffec 2,099 pigeons, 42 interprov, Angouleme 1,040 pigeons, 6 national Cahors 4,109 pigeons, etc.

The St. Vincent 71-3351194

The St. Vincent was a son of the 123: 68-3321123 with a sister of the Pasport with number 68-3321136. He won: 1st  national St. Vincent, 16th international Pau 1,682 pigeons, 48th national St. Vincent at Fleurus, etc.

The Slappen 69-3180119

10 national St. Vincent 2,765 pigeons and 1 international Pau 1,682 pigeons.
Just across the French-Belgian border at Rekkem near the road to Paris lies the town of Neuville. There lived a certain Mr. Duquesnoy who, a rough twenty years ago, played quite well. He made a name for himself with his so called Mèchanten 62-068154, that once flew about 40 minutes ahead in Limoges franco-belge. Paul Bostijn knew about this and was lucky enough to get some of the pigeons of said strain into his own possession. In crossing some of these with his own pigeons Bostijn was able to create a handful of top quality birds like the 30: 71-3335030.
This bird won, among other, 1st national Narbonne and 26 national Montauban. The 30 was a descendant of the 68-3168326 dark white pen, a pure Duquesnoy and one of many terrific breeding hens, full-blooded sisters of Benoni, in this case the 70-3050551.
The mother of the 30 was thus in fact a full-blooded sister of the mother of Pasport, the 700, checkered with white feathers!


The most famous top prize winning pigeon Bostijn ever had was the Chico 74-3400228, a blue pigeon with a hen’s head, in any case not too big. He was bred from Benoni II, a blue son of Benoni 63-3278268 and a German hen with a tint of Vandevelde, redelivered to him by Dr. Schulte at Schwerte near Dortmund. Benoni II was first put to the task as a three-year old pigeon. He had never flown before. Results were: 2 national Limoges against 4,500 pigeons! For the rest of his life he would remain in the breeding cage. Benoni II was 71-3334297. Chico’s mother was a blue hen 71-3335059, daughter of the Blauwe Blois of Duquesnoy 68-3168312, who as a young pigeon flew the first provincial of West-Flanders from Blois. Chico’s grandmother, from his mother’s side, was the 65-3090997 full-blooded sister of Benino and Pasport’s mother.

700 was the best of all these sisters. Second in line was the 997. Another six full-blooded sisters weren’t that bad either though. It just depended on whether or not they got along with the cock.

Like a million dollars

These hens made Bostijn feel like a million dollars. Thanks to them he rose to the world championship title. Bostijn had all the necessary qualities and there were but few who wouldn’t grant it to him.

Chico 74-3400228 won: 2 national Tulle, 1 national Argenton, 1 national Brive 5,571 pigeons, 35 national Argenton, etc. He lost the first national from Tulle by just a few inches, otherwise he would have won a triple first national prize.

The first national Cahors 1983 was won by a daughter of Chico that was bred by the brothers Decrois from Rumbeke, two phenomenal players, in a contest with 5,568 other pigeons.

The Jonge Barcelona 74-3400062, a full-blooded brother of Chico, was released much further away than the latter bird: 16 interprov, Poitiers 1,874 pigeons, 89 interprov. Angouleme 1,849, 10 international Pau 2,187 pigeons, and won 128,000 Belgian francs. 4 international Narbonne 1,896 pigeons, 123,000 Belgian francs.


The Mustang was a son of a full-blooded brother of Pasport; he won 24 international Barcelona 10,503 pigeons and one year later 52 international Barcelona 6,147 pigeons. On both flights Mustang 74-3400277 won an amount of 438,000 Belgian francs. Mustang’s father 72-32892912 was sold at the age of four weeks to a pigeon fancier from Ruddervoorde. This fancier bred many fine birds from said pigeon and publicly sold him 3 years later in Brussels, where Bostijn repurchased him for about 300,000 Belgian francs. He wouldn’t sell for less than that. After a while the bird was transferred to Dr. De Weerd in Breda, who also held a daughter of 640 in his possession, which was yet another full-blooded brother of Pasport.


The 72-3282912 formed a breeding couple with the NL 87-872863, the second-fastest pigeon in Holland at St. Vincent 1981 in contention with about 30,000 other pigeons and at speeds of 768 meters per minute.
In September 1981 the author of this book, who had just recovered from an illness, bought twelve breeding hens from Bostijn of his own free choice at the breeding cages in Moorslede. The best one was 74-3335274, daughter of Benoni and the 66-3308657. The latter was a son of a brother of the father of Pasport, a pure Stichelbaut, and the 64-3267700, the 700: world famous sister of Benoni: mother of Benoni; mother of Pasport and Kousse. The big nationals are dominated by just a few elite families.

Jules Vermaut from Wevelgem and Daniel Labeeuw from Bissegem were close friends of Stichelbaut and Bostijn, even before the war. Vermaut had bad health and died early on in his life. His most famous pigeons were descendants of a crossing between Michel Fache from Poperinge and Alois Stichelbaut. During the ‘30s the Fache won 1 Bordeaux, 1 Angouleme, 2 international Bordeaux Belgium-Holland. It was the very same time that Charles Vanderespt won his first victory in Ostend. He was paired with a daughter of Stichelbaut’s Goede Bleken and from this couple the 36-3273116 was born in the lofts of ‘Labeeuw’ and named the Blauwe Vermaud-hen.

In ’49 Jules Vermaut won the 1st national prize of St. Vincent. On the day of release only a few came through. For the Netherlands St. Vincent is the same distance as Kortrijk, a fine Bordeaux. In light of this, the victory wasn’t that exceptional. 
A few years later Vanbruaene’s Tarzan flew the 1st national of San Sebastian at a tardy release (i.e. 10 a.m.) and came back home at 10 p.m.

Daniel had four full-blooded sisters of Vermaut’s best flyers. André Vanbruaene had the sister of the famous 88, that won first prize on short distance 26 times. The number 89 was there one year for breeding purposes. The rest was left over to André, although many people wouldn’t stand by his success.  

The Kift was an ugly bugger. In a tavern in Wevelgem I once heard that his Stier, which was an ancestor of his strain dating from 1932, originated from 2 eggs of Alois Stichelbaut, and not from van mijnen Goeden Gepakten, i.e. a bird of Julien Commine from Leers-Nord that had flown away. That’s how it was officially registered.