Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Emu War

Emu HeadNot all events in Australia's past are glamorous or awe inspiring. The Emu War that occurred in Western Australia's Campion district in 1932 is one such incident that we feel sure the majority of our readers would have preferred never happened.

Emus are large flightless birds. They are a national symbol and appear prominently on the Australian Coat of Arms along side the kangaroo.

Australian Coat of Arms

Article from Canberra Times, 12 November 1932In 1932, following concerns by local farmers about the destruction created by emu's on their crops and water supplies, the Australian army was called in to eradicate a population of approximately 20,000 birds. Under the leadership of Major Meredith, soldiers with two Lewis machine guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition went to battle against their foe. The soldiers quickly discovered that the emus were more than a match for them, quickly scattering whenever they came under fire. After several days, with only 100 of the emus killed, Major Meredith stated, "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....".

Less than a week later, Australia's Defence Minister, George Pearce, ordered the army's withdrawal and with that they withdrew, defeated.

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