Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Emus of War


In 1932 the emu population of Australia was getting out of control. With more than 20,000 of the massive birds running loose, they were destroying crops and making a general nuisance of themselves.

Deciding the country was facing an enemy that demanded attention, the Seventh Heavy Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery was authorized to declare war against the emus. War was officially declared on November 2, 1932 when machine gun-carrying soldiers were deployed to bring the emu population under control.

The war went poorly for the brave Australian soldiers. Finding that the birds were not only incredibly fast and agile, but they were also very durable, the soldiers discovered that birds could take multiple hits from their assault rifles and still be able to run off to fight another day.

Major G.P.W. Meredith, commanding the operation, observed, “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 are like Zulus whom even dum-dum bullets could not stop.”

On November 8, 1932 — seven days after the commencement of hostilities — the military called it quits. After firing more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition, the military managed to cut down just a fraction of the dreaded fowl. One report puts the total number of emu casualties at 50 birds.


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