The Great Emu War

By Ruby M

You’ve heard of civil wars in countries between people, but have you ever heard of the Great Emu War of 1932?

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You read correctly. In 1932, the Australian army went to war with over 20,000 emus – and the emus won! Australia is known to be the home of almost everything that has the capability of killing you. If the heat doesn’t do it, the funnel-web spider might. Or perhaps you might come face to face with an angry crocodile or two. Another infamous creature roaming Australia – and apparently hell-bent on making life for the Australian people difficult – is the emu. The emu, a bird native to Australia, is the second largest bird in the world.

The beginnings of the 1932 Great Emu War started in 1928 when, during World War I, a soldier settlement program aiming to assist veterans with earning a living through farming found itself on the fringes of emu territory. The emus would indulge themselves in the fine crops, leaving the poor veterans with almost nothing to eat or sell. Because times were rather tough, many soldiers couldn’t afford to put up fencing to keep the birds at bay, and so they approached the Minister of Defense, who ultimately waged war against the emus. 

Image credit: Australian Geographic

He provided the farmers with 10,000 bullets and the use of two machine guns, as well as two expert gunners and Major G.P.W. Meredith. With these resources, the soldiers believed that they would see an easy victory. 

Little did they know, they were facing a fierce and cunning enemy. When the emus weren’t devouring the crops, they would remain in the shaded space of trees nearby, and with the vegetative cover, the soldiers were not able to get a decent shot. To make matters worse, the emus were soon able to calculate the range of the bullets and stayed just out of reach. 

Although there were no human casualties and just over 900 emus were killed, the emus consequently won the war by surviving the soldiers’ attacks and outlasting over 9,860 bullets.

Image credit: The_Rising_Sun1 / Reddit