Australia cannot lay claim to any great empires or epic conquests, but we do have one distinction that no other nation on Earth can boast: we are the only country in history to lose a war to birds.
In 1932 the farmers of Western Australia, fed up with the 20,000 emus that kept dropping in to their farms to eat all their crops, went to Defence Minister Sir George Pearce to demand he take action to safeguard the precious wheat of the Campion region. Pearce, a man who knew the value of a show of strength, decided that what the emus needed was a hefty dose of good old-fashioned military might.
And so Major GPW Meredith of the Royal Australian Artillery was sent, along with two soldiers, two Lewis guns and 10,000 bullets, into the scrubland to show the emus just who was the more highly evolved species.
Almost immediately the expedition ran into trouble. The soldiers attempted to herd the emus into a suitable place in which to mow them down en masse, but the birds, well-trained in guerrilla tactics, continually split into small groups and ran off in different directions, making it damnably difficult for the guns to draw a bead on them. Also, the guns jammed.
Also, when the guns worked, and when an emu stood still long enough to shoot at, they proved resistant to bullets to an unsettling degree. Meredith wrote: 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.
The soldiers retreated, weary and sick of the sight of feathers. Meredith’s official report noted, optimistically, that his men had suffered no casualties. The emus’ report noted that humans were slow-moving and stupid.
The House of Representatives debated the matter and questions were asked of the minister regarding whether medals were to be awarded for survivors of the campaign. The question of why, blessed as we are with a native animal that is essentially a cross between an armoured car and a velociraptor, our military has not taken advantage by training emus for combat duty in the ADF, remains unanswered to this day.
Reprinted from the "Heron Flyer", 11/11/17. For more information go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emu_War