Top 10 Strangest Military Encounters

Updated on March 23, 2020
Sudhir Devapalan profile image

I am a front-end developer by profession, but I enjoy writing articles about anything mysterious, interesting, and fascinating.

Conflicts between nations are inevitable and have occurred for centuries. While some could be justified, others are simply crazy. Below is a list of 10 strange military encounters.

1. The Emu War

The Emu War
The Emu War

"The Great Emu War" was fought between 2 November 1932 - 10 December 1932. As comical as it may sound, it was fought between the humans and the Emus of Australia. There were about 20,000 Emus running around and damaging crops of farmers in Western Australia. Something needed to be done and fast to save the crops.

So the government did the most sensible thing to do, they declared war on the Emus. Soldiers deployed with machine guns were deployed to deal with the pesky birds. Things were not going as planned though. The Emus were very agile and fast and evaded the attacks.

The Emu flocks dispersed into smaller groups which made them even harder to track down. The birds even realized that if they maintained their distance from the soldiers then the Lewis guns were too inaccurate to hit them. In the end, the military was not able to curtail the ever-growing population of the Emus resulting in a humiliating defeat.

2. An Unlikely Partnership

Defense of Castle Itter
Defense of Castle Itter

During World War 2, the Germans and Americans were battling against each other. However, there was one unique incident where the German solders of the Wehrmacht joined forces with the Americans and fought together. After the death of Hitler, the Waffen-SS troops were ordered to kill all prisoners held in Castle Itter.

This included a number of famous French personalities including former prime ministers Édouard Daladier and Paul Reynaud. However, when the SS troops entered the Castle, they were met with fierce resistance by 14 soldiers from the US Army and 10 German soldiers. Knowing that the war was already lost they teamed up with the Americans to save the prisoners and despite overwhelming odds were victorious in their defense.

3. Battle of Cajamarca

Battle of Cajamarca
Battle of Cajamarca

The Battle of Cajamarca was fought on November 16, 1532, between 168 conquistadors led by Francesco Pizarro against 3,000 to 8,000 lightly armed guards of the Inca Emperor Atahualpa. The Spanish were outnumbered by a huge margin. It is even said that some of the Spanish soldiers urinated their pants out of sheer fear.

The two leaders met for talks but when things began to get sour the hostilities began. The Conquistadors fell back to their defensive positions and opened fire on the Incas. The lightly armed Incas were shocked by the effect of the gunpowder weapons. The Spanish took advantage of this and charged the Incas with just 62 horsemen. The Incas were taken by surprise and in the confusion captured the Inca leader. The Spanish lost about 5 men whereas the Inca casualties were around 2000.

4. War of the Oaken Bucket

War of the Oaken Bucket
War of the Oaken Bucket

The Battle of Zappolino was fought between the Italian towns of Bologna and Modena in November 1325. The issue was instigated by the soldiers of Modena who went inside the territory of Bologna to steal a bucket from the city's main well. This was not taken well by the Bolognese when the Modena forces refused to hand over the bucket.

The Bolognese forced invaded with a force of 30,000 armed foot soldiers and 2,000 Cavaliers. The city was Modena was defended by only 5,000-foot soldiers and 2,000 cavaliers but within 2 hours they routed the invaders and chased them out. The unconquered bucket is still kept in the main bell tower of the city of Modena today.

5. The Charge of The Light Brigade

The Charge of The Light Brigade
The Charge of The Light Brigade

The Charge of the Light Brigade was one of the worst and humiliating defeats for the British empire. This incident was a charge of British light cavalry troops led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces in the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854. The initial order was for the troops to prevent the Russians from removing the captured guns from overrun Turkish positions.

However, due to a miscommunication, the cavalry was asked to make a frontal assault on a heavily defended Russian position. The brave cavalrymen charged down the valley of death surrounded on three sides by Russian guns and were shredded. Despite all this, the Light Brigade reached the Russian lines and forced the Russian gunners to retreat. However, with no support, they were forced to retreat and they made no progress with heavy casualties.

6. Battle of Los Angeles

Battle of Los Angeles
Battle of Los Angeles

The Great Los Angeles Air Raid took place during the Second World War between late 24 February to early 25 February 1942 over the city of Los Angeles. Sirens were sounded after about 25 aircraft were spotted in the sky. Blackouts were ordered as the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade began shooting the supposed "aircraft".

The Americans fired around 1,400 shells and the bombardment was so intense that it cost the life of 5 civilians in which two fatalities were from heart attacks due to the intensity of the firing. Surprisingly, this was later found out to be a false alarm. The objects which were identified were probably some weather balloons but some speculate that they could have been UFOs.

7. Christmas Truce

Christmas Truce
Christmas Truce

On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested the nations of the world for a temporary ceasefire on Christmas day to provide some respite for the soldiers fighting in World War 2. This suggestion was however not accepted by the nations. This did not stop the soldiers from having their own truce in the battleline.

On Christmas day, some of the German soldiers jumped out of their trenches and approached the allied lines shouting "Merry Christmas". At first, the allied soldiers were suspicious but seeing that the German troops were unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy.

The men exchanged cigarettes, plum puddings, and carol songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers playing football. Some soldiers used this time to retrieve the bodies of their fallen comrades in no man's land. But as the day came to a close the men went back to their trenches to start the killing come tomorrow. This incident, however, showed that humanity has endured.

8. The Anglo-Zanzibar War

The Anglo-Zanzibar War
The Anglo-Zanzibar War

The Anglo-Zanzibar war was fought between the United Kingdom and the Zanzibar Sultanate on 27 August 1896. This was the shortest war in human history lasting for a mere 40 minutes. The conflict was started when the ruler of Zanzibar Sultanate was removed in favor of a British-choice candidate.

The British had 150 sailors along with 900 Zanzibaris. They were supported by just three cruisers and two gunboats. The Zanzibar Sultanate had around 2,800 soldiers, machine guns, artillery and the royal yacht HHS Glasgow. Despite being outnumbered the British attacked by shelling the Palace which immediately caught fire taking the artillerymen off guard making them ineffective. A successful naval action destroyed the royal yacht HHS Glasgow ending the hostilities injust 40 minutes with the British forces sustaining only one injury.

9. Bathroom Break

Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War

In 1937 Japan was trying to assert its dominance over China and tensions were getting high. One night, Japanese soldiers were making a patrol over the conflict zone when one of their soldiers went missing. Fearing that their comrade was captured by the enemy, the Japanese launched an offensive against the Chinese.

However, the Japanese were in for a surprise when the suspected missing soldier returned to their camp later that night. He had simply gone to use the toilet. But it was already too late. Itching to fight one another the Second Sino-Japanese War had already started which merged into WW2.

10. War of the Stray Dog

War of the Stray Dog
War of the Stray Dog

The 'Incident at Petrich' also known as the 'War of the Stary Dog' was an incident during the Bulgarian crisis in 1925. The conflict started when Bulgarian forces shot and killed a Greek soldier who crossed into enemy territory while chasing his pet dog. In response to this, the Greeks demanded compensation from the Bulgarians.

The Bulgarians refused to pay any compensation and so the Greeks launched a preemptive strike on the town of Petrich to exact revenge on the troops that killed their soldier but they were held off by locals who formed armed militias to defend their town. By the time the League of Nations intervened, 50 people were killed and the Greeks, in turn, were asked to pay a ‘reverse’ compensation of around $45,000 for their actions.

Questions & Answers

  • What is an emu?

    The Emu is a large flightless bird similar to an Ostrich. It is the second-largest bird and is found in Australia.

© 2018 Random Thoughts


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    • Sudhir Devapalan profile imageAUTHOR

      Random Thoughts 

      2 years ago from Chennai, India

      @Esteban: Nice I haven't heard about that battle actually. A similar incident occurred in Operation Cottage during WW2. US troops stormed a Japanese island with 300 casualties only to find that the Island had been abandoned two weeks earlier. Friendly fire isn't too friendly!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Battle of Karansebes ? The austrian armies fought against each other


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