As the Edwin Starr song goes: ”War, what is it good for?” Apparently, a bloody good article on Weird Wars. Unless you’re a hardcore Christian, human history can be traced back 3,400 years. Out of that period, we’ve only ever known true peace for 8% of it. Humans truly are an apocalyptic race.
Throughout history, there have been thousands upon thousands of wars fought for sometimes bizarre reasons. In this article, we’re going to dive into 11 weird wars that are downright ridiculous. Ranging from Aussies getting their arses kicked in a war against Emus to a war fought entirely using Toyota pickup trucks, it’s about to get weird!
The Gombe Chimpanzee War
I might have already pissed off any fundamentalist Christian readers with my comment about human history. To add further fuel to the fire, let’s start off our list of weird wars with one that was fought between our ancestors, but in the 1970s. The Gombe Chimpanzee War might sound funny, but it’s pretty fucking horrific.
The weird war took place in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. Observed entirely by researcher Jane Goodall, the war lasted for four years between 1974 and 1978. It began with a group of Chimpanzees called the Kasakela community. Suddenly, the community began to split and one group of chimp separatists formed their own group that was labelled the Kahama community.
What followed was an extremely violent power struggle between the two groups of chimpanzees. Goodall observed the chimps crushing each other’s skulls with rocks and drinking the blood of their enemies in victory. By the end, all-male chimpanzees of the Kahama community were murdered. Goodall was understandably traumatized by the entire war.
- Number of chimpanzees killed: 11
- Weird war length: 4 years
Pitch Invasion? The Football War
Football can cause a lot of shit. I’m not talking about British football hooligans having a punch up on an away day, I’m talking about the time it kicked off a violent war between two central American coastal countries. The second of our weird wars is the 1969 war between El Salvador and Honduras was known as ”The Football War”.
When rioting kicked off during a 1970 FIFA World Cup qualifier between the two countries, existing tensions boiled over. El Salvador launched a military attack on Honduras. Although the war only lasted 100 hours, it was devastating. Thousands were killed and over a quarter of a million people were displaced. After all that, El Salvador was locked out of the World Cup after losing their first three matches.
- Number of People Killed: 3,000
- Weird war length: 100 hours
The War of the Stray Dog
Both fairly large countries with a strategic position, Greece and Bulgaria have long been rivals. After the Second Balkan War at the beginning of the 20th Century, tensions between two countries were at an all-time high. In 1925, these tensions erupted into a small war caused by none other than a stray dog.
On the border between Greece and Bulgaria, a Greek soldier was walking with his dog. Suddenly, the dog ran over the borderline into Bulgaria and the Greek soldier instictively ran after it. Bulgarian troops shot him dead, providing the perfect excuse for Greece to invade the Balkan country.
A number of villages were taken over by Greek troops and they planned to launch an artillery attack on Bulgarian cities. However, the League of Nations stepped in and a ceasefire was negotiated between the hot headed countries. Around fifty people were killed in this short and bizarre war.
- Number of People Killed: 50
- Weird war length: 10 days
The Shortest War in History Was The Anglo Zanzibar War
IN 1896, the shortest war in human history took place between Great Britain and the Sultanate of Zanzibar. Despite lasting for just 38 minutes, over 500 people were killed, 3 boats were sunk, and a coastal artillery battery was wiped out.
When a pro-British Sultan died, the Brits weren’t too keen on his replacement. Through an ultimatum, the British ordered the new Sultan to leave the ruler’s palace and stand down as leader, or face the consequences. The new Sultan took the latter option and barricaded himself inside alongside his troops.
With a spot of literal gunboat diplomacy, the British sent a Royal Navy attack force to Zanzibar harbour and opened fire on the Sultan’s palace. The attack caused absolute mayhem and made the Sultan flee to German-controlled East Africa. The British installed a puppet leader favourable to the UK and colonialism was restored.
- Number of People Killed: 500
- Weird war length: 38 minutes
The Longest War in Human History is a Weird One
You’ve had the world’s shortest war, so it’s only right we lead off with the world’s longest war. No, it’s not the 100 Years War, it’s much longer than that. This one lasted 335 years and was between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly.
During the English Civil War, fought between Royalists and Republicans, the Isles of Scilly were used as a Royalist Navy base. The pro-Republican Dutch were taking hits from the isles whenever they sailed past and subsequently declared war on the Isles of Scilly in 1651. But the English Civil War was soon over, King Charles I was beheaded, and the declaration of war was forgotten about.
In 1985, it was discovered that the conflict had never been resolved with a peace treaty and was technically still ongoing. The Dutch, who are a lot more polite bunch than they used to be, sent an ambassador to the Isles of Scilly to bring an end to the longest conflict in human history and one of the most weird wars there is.
- Number of People Killed: None.
- Weird war length: 335 years
The Weird War Of The Oak Bucket
This weird war took place in medieval Italy between the rival city-states of Bologna and Modena and was caused by an oak bucket of all things! When the Modenese nicked an oak bucket from a Bolognese well (classic Modenese!) it all kicked off and led to the Battle of Zappolino which is not to be confused with Tatiana Zappardino.
Like many weird wars, despite its comical roots, the war of the oaken bucket was no joke. Overall, it killed around 2,000 people which is a lot for the 1300s. And guess what? They never got their bloody bucket back. The Modenese won and still have the bucket to this day. If one thing is to be learned from this, it’s that you should never get in the way of a Modenese man and his bucket!
- Number of People Killed: 2,000
- Weird war length: A part of the 300-year-long war between Guelphs and Ghibellines.
Weird Wars Between Polite Nations: The Whiskey War
The Whisky War is an ongoing conflict on Hans Island situated in the Kennedy Channel between Greenland and Ellesmere Island. A theoretical line in the middle of the strait goes through the island. Canada and Denmark could not agree on Hans Island in 1973 when a border treaty was signed, leaving a gap in its border description.
In 1984, Canada planted a flag on the island and left a bottle of Canadian whisky. This led to the Danish turning up with their flag and a bottle of Danish snaps. Since then, it’s been a regular occurrence between the two sides to routinely make pseudo-confrontations and silly attempts at controlling the island.
- Number of People Killed: None
- Weird war length: Ongoing
The War of Jenkin’s Ear
In 1731, a British merchant ship was illegally boarded by Spanish forces. The British captain of the ship, Bob Jenkins, lost an ear during the fray but survived. Upon his return to blighty, he brought his severed ear to the British Parliament to relay the story. The British used this attack as a surprise tool to help them later.
8 years later, the British declared war on Spain spawning a three-year conflict that eventually became part of what is arguably the world’s first world war involving almost all major European superpowers at the time: The War of Austrian Secession. A conflict that would only simmer down in 1748.
- Number of People Killed: 24,500
- Weird war length: 9 years
The Pig War
To be fair, animals have triggered a lot of weird wars and the next one is no exception. The Pig War took place in 1859 on San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest. Inhabited by British and American settlers, the unclear borderlines of the island left it a disputed piece of land between the British and the Americans.
One day, a pig belonging to a British settler wandered onto an American’s farm and damaged his crops. The pig was shot, sparking a diplomatic incident that saw both sides send troops to resolve it. Thankfully, neither side opened fire as the British weren’t too keen on sparking a war between two major powers over a pig.
Both sides came to an agreement to place the island under a joint British/ and American occupation until the ownership issue could be resolved. 13 years later, German mediators came along and decided the island would go to America and it remains U.S. territory to this day.
- Number of People Killed: None, just one pig.
- Weird war length: around 5 months.
The Not So Great Emu War
In a list of weird wars, it would be criminal to miss out the Emu War that took place in Western Australia in 1932. Basically, Aussies were increasingly worried about thousands of Emus running wild in the Campion district and damaging crops. The Emu population had to be curbed.
This is where it gets interesting. See, a lot of the land in the Campion district was inhabited by ex-soldiers who were given the land after their WW1 service. These veterans suggested the Aussie government deploy troops with machine guns to kill as many of the birds as possible. When the press found out, it was dubbed the ”Emu War”.
But just like the Aboriginals, a genocide of these natives of Australia was easier said than done. The Australian Army failed to stop the Emu onslaught and the Emus continued to cause mayhem. These days, its a common form of meme material online.
- Number of People Killed: None, a shitload of birds died though.
- Weird war length: 38 days
Liberian Civil War
This isn’t the first time we’ve covered the absolute apocalyptic shit show that was the Liberian Civil War. From cannibal warlords and drugged up child soldiers to crossdressing rebels, this was a war of surreal horror that ended up killing over 250,000 people.
The origins of the war lay in a string of characters. Firstly, Samuel Doe, who had overthrown the elected government of Liberia during a coup in 1980. In 1985, Doe held elections, which were seen to be a fraud. In 1989, former government minister Charles Taylor arrived back in Liberia and began an uprising to crush the Doe government.
Taylor commanded forces known as the National Patriotic Front of Liberia and fought a bloody path through the country before eventually capturing the capital of Monrovia. Samuel Doe was captured and brutally murdered on camera.
A few years later, Charles Taylor was elected president of the country in 1997. A second civil war would erupt when various rebel groups sprang up around the country. Both conflicts featured everything from violent female warlords, transgender rebels high on heroin, and widespread cannibalism.
- Number of People Killed: 250,000
- Weird war length: 14 years
The Toyota War
Taking first place on our list of weird wars is one that features Colonel Gaddafi and a shitload of Chads in Toyotas. By Chads I don’t mean alpha male lads, I mean people from Chad. But to be honest, they were still fairly Chad. This is the Toyota War.
The Toyota War erupted in 1987 and consisted of the closing chapter of the war between Libya and Chad. This was a war that had been raging since 1983 when Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi refused to recognize the Chadian President Hissène Habré’s legitimacy and occupied Northern Chad as a result.
With international help from the ever kind presence to third world countries, the United States, Chad was able to ight back against Gadaffi’s troops and push them back. Their most signigicant victories came as a result of the humble Toyota Hilux and Land Cruiser vehicles which the Chadians used as armed technicals to gain a highly mobile and deadly advantage over the Libyan forces.
The war ended with a gruelling defeat for Gadaffi. It’s estimated that he saw one-tenth of his army obliterated along with around $1.5 billion worth of arms and equipment wiped out. Over 7,500 Libyan troops were killed in comparison to 1,000 Chadian troops.
- Number of People Killed: 8,500
- Weird war length: Almost four months
Weird Wars Conclusion
From chimpanzees waging violent war on each other to Emu’s resisting Aussie troops armed with machine guns, there have been some truly weird wars throughout history. It goes to show that humans need little excuse to dish out extreme violence upon one another. Does one wonder what the next weird wars will be fought over?