Saturday, September 05, 2015

Parrots and Bats in War

Throughout history animals have been used in warfare.  The Carthaginians used elephants against the Romans as early as 262 BC.  Things have not always gone in accordance with the best laid plans of the military however.

During World War the Soviet Army strapped bombs to dogs and deployed the suicide dogs to destroy German tanks.  The well cared for dogs, however, ran toward their own army which they identified with food and comfort, causing some Red Army units to beat a hasty retreat.

The American Army had similar problems with “Project X-Ray” which involved strapping miniature incendiary charges on thousands of bats which were to be released over Japan.  The plan was scrapped when the bats escaped and destroyed an aircraft hangar and a general’s car in New Mexico.

Supposedly, during World War I, the French army stationed trained parrots atop the Eiffel Tower, from where they were expected to give a twenty minute warning of incoming German aircraft.  The project was abandoned when it was found that the parrots could not discriminate between friendly and enemy planes.

The alleged source of this information is Flight of 7 February 1918:

"Parrots early in the war were tried at the Eiffel Tower with the result that at first they gave warning fully twenty minutes before the aeroplane or airship could be made out by the eye, or heard by the human ear. These birds, however, appear to have grown bored or indifferent, as they could not be kept indefinitely at the work."

Love, Sex, and Marriage in the Civil War

A brief look at love, sex, and marriage in the Civil War. The book covers courtship, marriage, birth control and pregnancy, divorce, slavery and the impact of the war on social customs.

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