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The Great Emu War

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Omar al Hashim View Drop Down
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    Posted: 18 Jun 2009 at 20:48
In 1932 Western Australia was in the grip of a long, hot, summer, in which water supplies and the forage grew thin in the deserts of Western Australia. The Campion district (map) of Western Australia lies at the edge of the desert in the West Australian Wheat Belt, and could quite easily be described as the edge of civilisation. In response to the drought conditions, in late spring of 1932, over 20,000 emus crossed into inhabited lands.

The emus were after the wheat crop to serve as the food that they were lacking in the outback, the farmers who planted the crops, were, understandable, unhappy at this emu invasion. Each farmer did what he could to control the Emu population on his land, but the few farmers had negligible affect on the thousands of Emus. The farmers appealed for military support, and were sent reinforcements in the form of the Royal Australian Artillery. Two Lewis machine guns under the command of Major Meredith.

The Army joined up with 50 local farmers, and setting themselves the target of holding the Emu advance at the Rabbit Proof Fence*, engaged a small group of emus that were foraging in the field. The machine guns opened fire at 1,000m with the majority of rounds falling short, a second burst killed about 12 emus in the pack, before the emus split and broke in all directions. This turned out to be a good engagement for the army. After a few other ineffective encounters, the army resorted to guerrilla tactics, such as laying ambushes for emu herds as they went for water at dams. In one engagement over a heard of over 1,000 emus was ambushed by the army, but with little effect. The Emus proved to have great resistance to machines guns, they would not only break in all directions at the first encounter - making it hard to target them, but they can also run at well over 50km/h after being hit with several rounds. Even today, 50km/h over a field is quite fast, with 1930s vehicles the Emus definitely had the speed advantage over the army and farmers. Major Meredith conceeded about his foe, "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...." (Which is quite a complement to the Zulus if he thinks they can 'face any army in the world')

One week later, no more than 100 emus had been killed. With the cost of the operation rising the Defence Minister ordered a halt to the war, and the army was withdrawn from the field. The Emus had won the day, and the wheat fields.

http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-33384087_ITM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emu_War
http://www.emugigs.com/emuwar/

*No 1 Fence, a large fence running from the North to the South coasts of Western Australia.
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cahaya View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cahaya Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jun 2009 at 14:34
Emu.. It is said to be classified with their closest family, Cassowaries or in Malay, it calls as Kesuari/Kasawari. Looking at the pic here, it looks more like related to Ostrich for me.






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Balaam View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Balaam Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jun 2009 at 19:35
We also have Cassowaries here in Australia, they are found in far north Queensland.
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Knights View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2009 at 14:52
Oh this is such a classic tale of war. And you conveyed it in such an eloquent fashion, Omar! Clearly the Lewis Machine Gun was not up to the task of taking down these agile, speedy emus. And the fact that they could take bullets like that...it reminds me of a pigeon! Has anyone heard of the Carrier Pigeon 'Cher Ami'?


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Omar al Hashim View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2009 at 18:37
Originally posted by Knights Knights wrote:

Has anyone heard of the Carrier Pigeon 'Cher Ami'?

I haven't. Do tell.
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cahaya View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cahaya Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 03:11
Refer to this link

I am not sure whether Knights was referring to this bird or not.








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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 03:27
Cahaya's link gives a pretty good overview. Basically it was a carrier pigeon from WWI which despite being shot a few times and losing an eye in the process, managed to deliver its message and save trapped soldiers on the Western Front. It was awarded a military medal, but died from its wounds. So it seems pigeons are mortal after all.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cahaya Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 03:39
I wonder if it happened nowadays period.. using pigeon for war communication purpose... will there be a problem with PETA?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 2009 at 03:49
PETA probably would be up in arms about it. But what could they do about it? They'd go mental if we launched a military operation against emus again, as well. 
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