Emu - Like Zulus...

An Emu stands machine guns "like Zulus"
Source: wikicommons

If you hear about Australia’s military defeats you probably think of their participation in disasters like the Battle of Gallipoli, Vietnam War or the Iraq War. But Australia faced an even bigger military disaster in 1932. Australian troops well armed with machine guns fought an unarmed enemy and lost.

You probably never heard of such an action and think I’m making this stuff up. But no, it is the truth!

Australia’s largest bird the Emu (No not crying teenagers. These are called Emos) was the enemy. The Emu population in Murchison district of Western Australia had grown in the 1930s and Emus looking for food and water had caused destruction to local farms. Farmers started to fear for their crops and called in the Australian army.

A group of Australian soldiers equipped with machine guns went into action against about 20,000 soft-feathered, flightless birds. Probably everybody suspected this to be a quick action (a "turkey shooting"). But shooting blindly into a group of birds which can run up to 50 km/h (30 mph) did not brought the expected results. The birds simply ran away even after being hit by a machine gun round.

Major Meredith – the Australian commander in the "Emu war" – was astonished and noted "if we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds, it would face any army in the world. They could face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks. They are like Zulus…".

After a few days the Defence Minister ordered a withdrawal. And thus the "Emu War" ended in a military defeat for Australia.