Most fanciers would not at all be interested in this blue coloured pigeon, because he has not a single prize after three years of racing. Take for instance the Acht en Dertig, which was also born in ’46. He had been basketed every season but the two brothers had never mentioned him. One Monday I got Oscar on the phone to ask him how the pigeons had performed in the race from Angouleme. He said that the Acht en Dertig had done it. “He is not one of our champions, but he is in a good shape now and he is the first pigeon in the entire region”, he said. His comments were published in a pigeon magazine and it was soon a hot topic in Belgium. He said he had so much confidence in this pigeon that he would even let him race in Brussels! That same day Acht en Dertig won the first national prize from Angouleme against 3,800 pigeons and fourteen days later he took a 16th national Libourne (2,030 pigeons). This pigeon won no less than 110,000 Belgian Francs or 2,750 Euros. The Cattrijsse brothers won a total of 270,000 Francs in Angouleme and Libourne and the Acht en Dertig was basketed for the entire city of Brussels region. Another pigeon of theirs won a first national and an international prize in the same race from Libourne that was won by Acht en Dertig. Later on they also won a first national Carcassonne, with one of their other great pigeons.
What I was trying to say
Oscar and Gerard had noticed something special about Acht en Dertig and that is why they had always kept him in the team. Some might say that this is not so easy if you have room for only twenty pigeons and when you’re on a tight budget. I agree with that. It is difficult to race against large pigeon lofts. Some Dutch fanciers have suggested banning lofts with 60 and 80 widowerhood cocks and several natural pigeons. Even though the Cattrijsse brothers are among the big fanciers in The Netherlands, they know that it is not useful to win a long series of prizes in a single race. It is not useful to keep pigeons that will never win top prizes. Twelve top quality racing pigeons are more than enough. The few fanciers who send in more pigeons can send them in as trainers. We had a discussion with Dr. Bom from Bilthoven and we talked about the need for patience and about successfully pairing breeding pigeons. If cock A does not pair with hen B and cock C does not breed well with hen D, but all of these pigeons have good origins and they are good breeders, it is possible that cock A x hen D or cock C and hen B might breed great champions. It could also be that the youngsters from these couples cross very well. It comes down to the ability of a breed to be combined with others.
“This does not mean that you should apply the principle of free pairing or love pairing”, said Dr. Brom. I think we understand what he means. Well, the success story of the Cattrijsse brothers, the glorious world champions of 1950, begins in 1926, about a quarter of a century earlier.
The old master Charles Vanderespt from Oostende, Uncle Charel and his nephews,
the Vanderespt brothers from Leffinge, the sons of his deceased brother Jules
The stock father was Grote Blauwe, which was bred from a chequered cock from Jules Vanderespt from Leffinge, a town about 5km away from Moere. Jules was the brother of the famous Charles. He had been a baker in Ostend throughout his life and he was always involved in pigeon fancying as well. The dam of the Cattrijsse’s Grote Blauwe was a blue hen from Nesten Casteleyn from Gistel, which belonged to the line of Wegge-Vandevelde.
The Grote Blauwe was paired with a hen from Decnop from Anderlecht and they bred quite some good quality racing pigeons. First of all they bred Louis, which became one of the key factors in the loft of the Cattrijsse brothers. A few years earlier there was Goliath, who managed to win a first prize from Angouleme in 1926 for Geo Platteau. Geo was sitting under the trees when he saw his pigeon arrive; everybody was amazed with this performance. Well, Louis managed to achieve this several times in its career.
After his first prize from Tours he also managed to take the victory from Angouleme in Bruges. His brothers, the Napoleon, Lange and Kleine performed excellently as well. Napoleon for instance, was quite an impressive racing bird. However, he did not prove a great breeder: his descendants were not of the same calibre as their father. It is possible that the Cattrijsse brothers never found a hen that suited him well, which is often crucial. It is sometimes possible that one brother is an outstanding breeder, whereas the other brother is not at all useful. Keep in mind that this occurs in even the best pigeon families.
In 1930, the Cattrijsse brothers made a smart move that confirmed their status as highly proficient fanciers. They purchased two hens from Alberic Deforce, a baker from Roeselare, and they paired them with Louis and Kleine. Both pairings proved a great success. Louis bred several outstanding pigeons, including Cendré (ash coloured), the Lange (Jr.), the Kleine Blauwe and the Blauwe Bordeaux. The Blauwe Bordeaux achieved a top 10 place in the memorable Belgium-Holland race from Bordeaux. Kleine bred the feared Gebroken Poot, which achieved a second international in that same race. Together with a loft mate he won the first of two series. The two pigeons were honoured at the Antwerp Champions’ Day in 1935. The two skilled fanciers from West Flanders were admired by thousands if not ten thousands of fanciers from The Netherlands (the Belgian Franc had a fairly low rate at that time).
This was not the only win for Gebroken Poot. At the next important race, the international Belgium-France from Angouleme, he managed to out do Blauwe Bordeaux: he won the first prize. Such prizes made the Cattrijsse brothers very famous in the world of pigeon racing. In the coming years they managed to win many more top prizes.
There was another important event in the development of the Cattrijsse pigeon breed. In 1932 they purchased a small hen with a white spot on its head from Leopold Lamote from Moeskroen. This was again a smart move by the fanciers from Moere, who would say in jest that they did not know a lot about pigeons. Oscar is all smiles when he explains about their latest purchase: “I had the opportunity to sell this Lamote hen to a friend from Holland with a profit margin but I declined. We paired it with Gebroken Poot and they bred nothing but good birds, including Goei Bolleken and the famous Sproeten bloodline. This line can still be found in our Akster. The Bolleken pigeon won the following prizes as a two year old in 1938:
4th Clermont in Gistel, 11th Dourdan in Diksmuide, 24th Orleans in leper, 7th Tours in leperen, 3rd Angouleme in Oostende, in double 12th provincial W. V. V. (810 p.), 3rd Ruffec in Oostende, in double 5th provincial W. V. V., 1st Angouleme in Oostende, in double 12th provincial W.V.V., 10th Bordeaux in Oostende, in double 10th provincial W.V.V.
This pigeon won a total of 23,507 Belgian Francs (590 Euros), which was quite a sum back in these days.
“You are unbelievable”, said the driver, when he was lighting another cigarette. “The worst thing is that you will persevere and that you will again out race us in the coming season.” We looked around and we saw a house full of trophies that were won for pigeon racing. What impressed us the most was a bronze piece of art that weighed about 47 kg. It depicted a lion attacking a deer that is in turn attacked by a (gigantic) eagle. It was made in 1919 by the Italian gold smith Antonio Amorcasti. This wonderful piece was bought for 6,000 Belgian Francs and was to be given away in the West Flemish Union: it was a prize for a competition for two year old birds.
The conditions to become the eventual owner of this piece were very demanding and it would take quite some time before one of the participants would win it. So it was decided that if there was no winner after ten years, a so called play off would be organised between the racers that had won points in this competition. This play off was supposed to take place before 1940 but the Cattrijsse brothers decided otherwise. They basketed their top class pigeon, Louis for this competition. They won a first and second prize in ’35 and they took the first five prizes in ’36. This settled the matter. You never had to ask the time in the house of Cattrijsse. There are regulators and clocks in every room, including the attic. They have lost count of the number of regulators, bicycles and hams they have won in their career. One of their most precious prizes is a wonderful mantel clock in solid silver, which they won with the S.T.B. in 1950.
The sons of Louis
These were quite temperamental pigeons. One of them is now housed in a loft in Lauwe. She is already 17 years old, which is a nice age for a hen. The Cattrijsses have also made a pairing with the well known Pau hen of Wardje Rasson from Espierres, winner of a first national prize from Pau in ‘32, in particularly demanding weather conditions.
Ernest Duray from Ecaussinnes, who won a first national from Pau both in ’30 and ’31 (each time with his Plume Blance, eventually sold to the Scottish surgeon Dr. Anderson for 5,000 Belgian Francs in '33, who would also win a first national prize with Ecaillé d’en Bas in 1933) could not beat the pigeons of Cattrysse either. That was in a period when the Walloon fanciers were simply outstanding.
The house that looked like a castle and the loft for widowers of Ernest Duray.
You can see dozens of observers when Duray won his first national from Pau in 1933.
The Flemish Walloon, Edward Rasson from Espierres, a border town along the Schelde river between Doornik and Kortrijk, managed to put a halt to the victory march of the two brothers. “Hold on”, said the Cattrijsse brothers, “it seems they have some good pigeons as well, let’s go and have a look.” I was once asked in a letter if the son of Louis from the Cattrijsse brothers and the Pau hen of Rasson were housed in the loft of André Vanbruaene. This was with reference to the announcement that André, the unbeaten master from Lauwe, had some of the bloodlines of the Cattrijsse Brothers in his loft. If this were the case, said the writer of the letter, it seems to be the case that the national competitions are a battle between only a few pigeon families! Huyskens-Van Riel and Vanbruaene are both using the bloodlines of Molein from Ieper and now it seems that Vanbrune has opted for pigeons of Cattrijsse.
It seems to be the case
Almost every fancier in West Flanders knew that the old Louis could breed new champions with about every hen. He was one of those rare breeders that pair well with every other bloodline. “You could pair him with a pigeon of no value and he would still breed great birds”, said Gerard. André Vanbruaene knew that as well. So he knew what to do. Even though he was fairly young he was very diplomatic and cautious. He was very careful not to add any inferior breeding lines into his own Stieren breed: even the very best was only just good enough. With tact and discretion he managed to obtain a son of Louis; he would not settle for less. It took him eight months before his efforts were rewarded. He said he would have waited for eight years as well. His Tarzan, winner of a first international prize from San Sebastian 1953 (225,000 Belgian Francs or 5,500 Euros), is a grandson of Louis but it was not the son of Louis paired with a pigeon from Rasson. In fact André was possibly not aware of this pairing and if he were, he would not have tried to avoid it from happening. I know him fairly well; he would always wait for the results before making a judgement.
The 17 year descendant son of Louis I was talking about, is in fact housed in the loft of Rudolf Verhoeve, who is relatively new to pigeon fancying. He made a flying start and he has already won a car in the race from Barcelona. He would only purchase top class pigeons. This means there is another successful fancier in the town of Lauwe. And there are more fanciers in this town: Desrumeaux, Stichelbaut, Deschamps-Vanhasten, Frans Cloots etc. This is a town along the Leie, the Golden River, and has about 6,000 citizens. We do not know the number of pigeon clubs but we do know that there are 600 pigeons fanciers, most of which are fairly successful. Let’s return to Ward Rasson: I reminded you of the way he put an end to the long series of victories won by Dr. Bricoux and Ernest Duray, the two unbeatable Walloon fanciers. It was on 21 July 1932 and 2,995 pigeons were basketed for the national from Pau in the Entente Beige. Some said that West Flanders had fairly good weather whereas the province of Henegouwen was covered in mist.
It is a fact that many of the West Flemish fanciers were in the lead, even though they were in the minority. Duray, who had become a famous fancier, would only have won a 13th prize that day. He had to look for excuses. In the following year the man from Ecaussinnes wanted to get his revenge. He achieved such an amazing result that I had no choice but to include it here.
In the race from Pau in 1933 there were 3,341 pigeons in the Entente Beige; Duray had basketed 24 widowhood cocks. His clocks gave the following timings: 9.13 - 10.42 - 10.47 - 10.54 - 11.04 - 11.19 - 11.37 - 11.47 - 11.53 - 11.54 - 11.57 - 12.18 - 12.27 - 12.31 - 12.39 - 12.53 - 12.57 - 13.55 - 14.40 and 16.51. He had won 20 national prizes: 1, 15, 20, 28, 51, 78, 112, 141, 142, 152, 211, 245, 255, 274, 324, 339, 507 and 640.
I have visited Duray several times to discuss his breeding methods. He considered it impossible to do even better than that. “I wish my friends would break that record”, he said, “but I’m afraid it will take some effort!” His prediction came true. Now I come to think of it, there are only two results that can somehow match up with the world record of Duray: the performance of Huyskens-Van Riel from Libourne ’49: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 13, 18, 42, 46, 82 and 97 provincial; a result that dominated the game both in the union and in the province. Double national, Entente Beige: 3, 7, 8, 10, 15, 24, 25, 44, 208, 237, 434 and 503 (2331 pigeons). Huyskens-Van Riel had basketed 14 pigeons.
And then there is the impressive feat of Leopold Bostijn from Moorslede in Pau 1950: 1, 2, 3, 4, 34 and 110 national in the Entente Beige. Pol had only six nominated pigeons and his first nominated arrived with a shot wound and without a tail: he finished 34th. This means that the result could have been even better without this incident. In the previous season this pigeon had won an 8th national from St. Vincent.
After the large auctions of Bricoux and Duray their unique pigeon breeds have continued to shine in the lofts of their friends: Demil, Caramin, Chermanne, Massul etc. However, 1932 was a turning point. Rasson, the Walloon fancier from Espierres, which is often called the French speaking part of South Flanders, has proved that a good location is a way to beat the high numbers of pigeons and possibly the superior champions of the Walloon fanciers. Such fanciers as Nestor Tremmery from Oudenburg, Charles Vanderespt from Oostende, the Cattrijsse brothers and Oscar Devriendt from Moere, the Depuydt family from Aartrijke, the Duguffroy family from Wingene, the Vandenbosch brothers in Tielt, Maurice Delbar in Ronse and many more decided to race in Brussels. We know the result.
Oscar Devriend and his son Maurits in Moere
Give credit where credit is due: I would like to mention that the Bricoux breed forms the basis of such breeds as Ernest Duray (Ecaussinnes), Cyriel Demil (Haine-St. Paul), Arthur Caramin (Chatelet), Oscar Blaimont (Couillet), Alfred Massul (La Louvière), Hector Desmet (Geraardsbergen), Charles Lossignol (Marchienne-au-Pont), Georges Chermanne (Chatelineau), Arthur Vandeneijnde (Roux), Joarlette (Lodelinsart), Paul Brochart (Luik), Paulin Pirmez (Lodelinsart), Paul Bernard (St. Servais) and many more, including Nestor Tremmery from Oudenburg, the Danhaive brothers from Basecles and (to a lesser extent) the Antwerp fanciers Horemans and Hermans.
Below you can see a result of Bricoux pigeons from Chateauroux in 1939. It was a hot day and there was a north east wind. The provincial Chateauroux in the R.U.P. Charlerloi: the first prize winner had a velocity of 974 m/min.
Mister Chermanne (Chatelineau):
1, 5, 6, 7, 23, 34, 37, 39, 40, 51, 52, 59, 60. 72, 73, 82, 99, 100, 102, 107, 117, 123, 125, 138, 147, 150, 151 in 166.
Mister Caramin (Chatelet): 2, 4, 11, 12, 14, 30, 33, 41, 42, 55, 56, 67, 74. 80,93,111,121,122,140,159 in 165.
Dr. Bricoux could not turn the tide. He was beaten by other fanciers and their pigeons. He had always said that it was not easy to get your hands on one of his good pigeons. That does not mean he did not want you to have them, said his close friends Stassart (Anderlecht) and Duray. But he really loved his pigeons and it was always hard for him to let one of his pigeons go. It would sometimes take him hours to go into the loft, to take the pigeon and to go back outside. Sometimes he would just let the buyer leave empty handed.
In the period between '30 and '40 the Bricoux pigeons have achieved impressive results:
1930 Angouleme in Charleroi, national, in rain and a northern wind. Only one pigeon was registered on the day of the release. It was a pigeon from Cyriel Demil, the Bon Bleu of 1926 bred from a couple of top class breeders from Dr. Bricoux.
1930 Pau in the Entente Beige, national: 1st prize Duray in Ecaussinnes (Bricoux breed).
1931 Liboume in Charleroi national. The first three prizes were won by Dr. Arthur Bricoux in Jolimont.
1931 Pau national Entente Beige: 1st prize Duray in Ecaussinnes (Bricoux breed).
1931 La Couronne, national, Luik and Charleroi: 1st prize Arthur Caramin in Chatelet with a cock from Dr. Bricoux.
1932 Angouleme national in Brussel (Concours des As): 1st prize Emest Duray in Ecaussinnes; 2nd prize dr Bricoux in Jolimont.
1933 Angouleme the As, national Entente Belge in Brussels: 1st prize Oscar Blaimont in Couillet with a Bricoux pigeon of '29, bred from Malade. The pigeon was still alive and well in '45.
1933 Pau national Entente Beige: 1st prize Emest Duray in Ecaussinnes.
1934 Angouleme the As, national Entente Beige: 1st prize for the unknown fancier Raoul Horgnies in Jolimont with a pure Bricoux pigeon.
1935 Limoges national Entente Beige: 1st prize Oscar Blaimont in Couillet with another pure Bricoux this time, bred from a sister of Jules Cesar.
1936 Angouleme national Entente Beige (2,325 pigeons): 1st prize Alfred Massul in La Louviere, with a pure Bricoux pigeon called Korporaal.
1937 Angouleme national Entente Beige (2,381 pigeons): 1st prize with an eight minute lead; Hector Desmet from Geraardsbergen with a red coloured Bricoux called 1e Bossu (In Flemish: den Bulte).....
1938 St. Vincent national Entente Beige: 1st prize Dr. Bricoux from Jolimont. A demanding race; only a few pigeons reached their loft by the evening.
1939 Angouleme des As, national Entente Beige: 1st prize Octave Huet from Falmignoul, with a Bricoux-Tremmery pigeon
Ten years later
1949 St. Vincent national Entente Beige. Huyskens-Van Riel had basketed some of their best pigeons and they won a 1st and 3rd prize. They waited for the pigeons to arrive at 8 o’clock in the morning.
By Saturday Evening (national level in Brussels), when the race is about to close, only one pigeon has been registered in Belgium; the red coloured cock of Robert Dubie from Quaregnon. I took a special trip to go and have a look at this natural raced pigeon. If this pigeon had been basketed in Liege, the pigeon would have won in sixteen unions with a two hour lead and it would have won a lot of money. Unfortunately his owner was only a small fancier from the Mons region..
And how about that red coloured cock? It was a pure Bricoux-Demil-Caramin. In other words: a pure Bricoux from Jolimont. The best post war long distance pigeon is the Rode Barcelona of the Danhaive brothers from Basecles. You can already guess its origins. It seems that the breed of the West Flemish fanciers was truly outstanding.
You might wonder: have the Cattrijsse brothers, the best long distance fanciers in Belgium between 1945 and ’50 ever achieved a result comparable to the best results of Bricoux and Duray, Huyskens-Van Riel and Bostijn? I let you be the judge of that:
30 May '48, Orleans in Roeselare, provincial West Flanders: 5, 6, 7, 8 ,9 ,11 ,16 ,18 ,23 ,26 ,28 ,33, 38, 50, 64, 69, 71, 76, 77, 81, 85, 86, 94, 100, 116, 129, 134, 138, 170, 191, 195, 241 and 261 (against 1,210 pigeons).
This is of course a provincial race but we should not forget that the the very best pigeon fanciers and the best champions of that time are located in West Flanders.
I would like to add one more result to that. What to think of the result of André Vanbruaene from Liboume international 1949? He had basketed four pigeons against 9,071 birds: 2nd, 9th, 56th and 84th. The Goede Zwarte and Coppi, who both raced in Brussels, were in the lead.