Australia has been involved in one of the most bizarre and embarrassing “wars” in history. The interesting thing is that the enemy was, exceptionally, not another army, but a group of emus.
The so-called Emu War of 1932 in Western Australia stands out as an unusual case. It happened that the Australian government had given soldiers serving in the First World War land here to grow wheat. But their farming activities were soon overshadowed by the fact that dozens of emus were eyeing the wheat fields for an easy meal.
As the flock of emus, now numbering 20,000 birds, threatened the soldiers’ food supply, they were forced to confront them. They appealed to the government for help, who responded by sending Major G.P.W. Meredith and two other soldiers to hunt them down. The flightless beasts, however, proved to be more of a bite than they expected. Despite a Lewis machine-gun-armed artillery crew, they managed to hunt 50 in the first few days and only 12 in the others. Finally, they set off with a truck-mounted machine gun, but only 200 to 500 of the 2,500 rounds fired hit the target.
After several unsuccessful attempts, 986 emus were finally shot down, wasting 9860 rounds. The fierce battle with the emus lasted more than a month, and the engagement was so embarrassing that it was reported in the press.