The Australian army waged a war against emus and lost it

The Australian army waged a war against emus and lost it
The Australian army waged a war against emus and lost it

Australia is the only country to have gone to war with a bird and lost. In fact, I’m pretty sure it is the only country to have gone to war with a bird at all.

After the end of the 1st world war, the homecoming Australian war veterans were given plots of land under the soldier settlement scheme primarily to cultivate wheat.

Things weren’t easy for the ex soldiers because cultivating the land with no experience wasn’t a easy job , let alone in a area where land is barely usable. The veterans were further under pressure when the Great depression of 1929 caused wheat prices to slump.

During the same time, Emus- large flightless birds that are indigenous to Australia migrated from the coast to interior places for breeding and in search of food. Around 20,000 emus finalised Campion, a farmland in western Australia as their choice. The emus destroyed the farms and damaged the fences, which allowed rabbits to get through and cause further damage (This led to the construction of the 1833km ‘rabbit proof fence’ – the largest unbroken fence in the world).

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Finally the ex soldiers devised a plan to eliminate the menace by partnering with the ministry of defence. On 2nd November 1932, Major G.P.W.Meredith led two regiments of the Australian army with Lewis machine guns to fight the emus. When the army fired at the birds, they split themselves into small groups and ran so fast and were very difficult to target. At the end of the day the army succeeded in killing only about a dozen birds. The army continued their attack for about 6 days. Finally at the end of the war, after firing around 10000 rounds of bullets, the emu casualties was just 500. Fortunately the military didn’t suffer any causality at the hands of the emus 😛

Following the humiliating negative coverage of the war in the media, the government withdrew the military personnel and the guns.

Major Meredith commented on how well the emus did, even when they were badly wounded.

If we had a military division with the bullet carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world. They can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks. They were like Zulus whom even dum-dum bullets couldn’t stop