The Great Emu War of 1932

It came to my attention that not everybody knows about the one hundred percent legitimate, Great Emu War of 1932. I’d heard about it once or twice online, but I had to know and I am so happy to find out that yes, Australia went to war with a flightless bird, and yes, Australia lost that war.

If you want to just check out the video I just watched, it’s a little corny, but it gives you all the details of probably the funniest true war story I’ve ever seen.

The Great Emu War EXPLAINED – Cool History  

Alright, so we all know that Australia is a pretty dangerous place where just about everything can kill you. But I don’t think a lot of people give props to the fearsome Emu, the only animal in the world to have ever had war declared on them. These bitches stand 6 feet in height and can run up to 30 mph. They have a six-inch claw on each of their feet and apparently are very intelligent making them; the modern day velociraptor.

Now Emus are migratory animals, they like to travel to the western coast of Australia after their mating season. During 1932, many veterans from The Great War moved to this one special section of Western Australia where they set up farms and were told to bump the production of wheat because times were tough. The Great Depression had taken place by 1929, and even Australia was feeling the economic disparity. The one crop they were told to make wasn’t selling on the stock market, and to make matters even worse, there was a drought that year. So even if they could make the wheat, they wouldn’t be able to sell it. And then, on top of all that. About 20,000 Emus, fresh out of their mating season, decided to take a spring break on the farmlands of these veteran farmers.

These men of war were done with the horrible string luck that mother nature had placed upon them. These Emus were dicks. Many farmers were too poor to afford fences, but if you had one, the Emus would’ve destroyed it anyway, because the Emus trampled on and ate every farmer’s crop, until the veteran farmers could take it no longer.

Ex-soldiers traveled to meet with none other than the Austrailian Minister of Defense, Sir George Pearce, who actually agreed to their weird bird hunting scheme. He more than agreed, he declared war on these birds. Being a veteran himself, he saw to help his fellow soldiers in their time of need. These veteran farmers were given 2 Lewis machine guns, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, two gunners to aide the men, and heavy vehicles. Pearce thought that this war might be good target practice for the soldiers, and that he might get some good PR for his efforts helping his fellow veterans, but he had no idea what those men were about to experience.


Sir George Pearce seemed to have an extreme hatred of these animals. He demanded 100 Emu skins as a prize. Yes, like Brad Pitt in Inglorious Bastards.


So, day 31 into war, they are finally about to have their first battle against the birds, the first month of war was postponed due to bad weather. Apparently, the Australian drought of 1932 ended with a bang, that also apparently caused the Emu to spread thin. November 2, 1932, war breaks. The men find a group of about 50 Emus and open fire. They hardly drop any birds as the rest run away. The soldiers continued their pursuit of the birds, but after a few skirmishes, the birds remembered the range of their weapons and would keep their distance.

These birds can’t even fly, but they had their own military tactics. Destroy the crops, and run away. They were good at it too, as one soldier reported.

“Each pack seems to have its own leader now – a big black-plumed bird which stands fully six feet high and keeps watch while his mates carry out their work of destruction and warns them of our approach.”


November 4, 1932, the men find a prime position at a dam nearby. There are 1,000 Emus, just waiting. The farmer-soldiers have readied their heavy machine guns at their target and open fire, 300 bullets a minute. Unfortunately, the gun jammed after only dropping a dozen birds as the rest fleed.

The soldiers then said, Enough is enough. I have had it with these mother-fucking Emus on this mother-fucking farm, we’re putting the machine guns on the truck. Huge failure. Remember when I said Emus run 30mph, that’s pretty fast. Too fast for the trucks on off-road terrane. Plus, the machine gunners stated that they were bumping around too much for him to use the weapon properly. One Emu was definitely confirmed dead. That Emu was struck by the truck, probably in a vicious rage that this farmer had over these Emu. He actually crashed the truck afterward, and after further examination on their kill, the soldiers discovered the Emu had already sustained 5 bullet wounds.

Five bullets that Emu took and it still was trooping, fast enough to get hit by that truck. This confirmed the soldier’s fears of these crafty animals being damn near bulletproof. Major Meredith, the squad leader seemed to adopt a high level of respect for his foe stating:

“If we had a military division with the billet-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, whom even dum dum bullets would not stop.”

November 8, 1932, they’re pretty sure that anywhere around the numbers of 50-500 Emus had died at war. Out of the original 20,000 that plagued their lands. The whole mission was a train wreck failure from beginning to end. The only bright side was, surprisingly against a superior foe, there were no human casualties.


Pearce and his soldiers were embarrassed. The media crowds that had originally flocked to protest such a cruelty to animals, now changed gears to mock their piss-poor efforts. George Pearce, who obviously had much of the blame, was called by Senator James Dunn The Minister of the Emu War. A title that I’m sure would stick.

In a semi-happy turn of events, the angry Australian farmers were given a second chance at redemption because their Emu issue was still very present. Major Meredith was back in action with more men at his disposal and more guns. These guys weren’t joking around anymore, they meant business, Emu slaughtering business.

November 12, 1932, 40 Emus died at the hand of the soldier’s machine guns they had a few early successes and before long they were at a 100 kills per week ratio. Still, not much for a much more serious military grade attack, but it got the job done. The Emus fled the area, more likely because they had eaten everything in sight and it was time to migrate. But we can let the soldiers think they won. By December 10th, the Great  Emu War was declared over after nearly 1000 Emus had died and the remaining vermin were out of sight. That is until 3 years later when they returned with a vengeance!

Even more unfortunately, there was not a Part III to complete an epic Emu War Saga. I’m guessing the veterans moved to a slightly less dangerous section of Australia. If that’s a thing.

I’m hoping you enjoyed this rant, I promise this is still a writing blog.



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