10 of the Biggest Military F%&# Ups in History

War is a serious affair, fought by enigmatic leaders who bark their orders at tough, grisly men who put everything on the line for the glory of their country. But sometimes things don’t go quite as pl

War is a serious affair, fought by enigmatic leaders who bark their orders at tough, grisly men who put everything on the line for the glory of their country. But sometimes things don’t go quite as planned. Amidst the thunderous roars of artillery fire, the shrieking whistles of incoming fire and the screaming of terrified comrades, logic can simply go out of the window. It’s one of the most chaotic situations anyone can find themselves in, and it can often provoke even the most rational individuals to lose all sense of control, freak the hell out, and do things that they would find unthinkable in any other situation. It is only when people’s true natures are revealed that the funniest stuff starts to happen, and in these situations the “seriousness” of war is completely forgotten.

Besides these antics that occur on the battlefield, it’s often the actual reason for fighting the war itself that is the most ridiculous. Hell, we almost launched nukes once because someone saw a flock of geese on radar readings and thought they were incoming missiles. War has been declared many times for reasons that even a drunk adolescent would see as not worth fighting over.

Some of these hilarious stories about military ineptitude are, well, hilarious. But it’s important to remember that people died during the course of many of these stories. The best way to view these amusing anecdotes is to reflect on the absurdity of war itself, as a concept and as an integral part of humanity’s self-destructive nature. Such is the power of humor.

10 The Vasa

9 The Emu War of 1932

Never has the Australian Armed forces suffered greater humiliation that at the hands of their arch enemies- the Emus. In 1932, Emu forces were rampaging unchecked across most of Western Australia, eating crops, harassing farmers, and generally being a “bloody nuisance.” The Australian Military was called upon to vanquish the Emu forces and force them back into the void from whence they came, once and for all. If only it were that easy.

The Emus use guerilla warfare tactics from the get-go, easily thwarting attempts by the soldiers to herd them into a position where they could be shot down. By the sixth day of vicious battle, the Australian forces had fired 2,500 rounds, but only 50 birds had been killed. After one month, the Emus forced their foes to retreat back out of the warzone to resupply.

8 The French-Brazilian Lobster War

7 The Cod Wars


Some wars are fought over resources. Some are fought over more resources. Others still are fought over pride. And some wars, well… some wars are fought over Cod. Iceland and England have been fighting over fishing rights since the 1400s, but the first official “Cod War” began in 1958.

This was truly a battle between David and Goliath; Britain had their entire Royal Navy, and Iceland had six patrol boats and a single plane. The Icelandic navy put up a good fight however. No one was seriously hurt during the first war, but the British Navy wasted half a million dollars on fuelling their warships, resulting in Icelandic victory.

The second Cod war began, and things started to get real. The Icelandic Navy brought out its secret weapon: the “net cutter.” Using this weapon, the Icelandic Navy revolutionized Cod warfare forever, dragging the net cutter behind them and slicing through English fishermen’s nets with reckless abandon. The British responded to this by ramming the smaller Icelandic patrol boats, resulting in the first death of the Cod War- an Icelandic engineer.

6 Operation Cottage


Losing a battle to an enemy who is defending a well-fortified position is always a tough pill to swallow. But losing a battle to an enemy who’s not even there? Now that’s just sad. A situation like this occurred in World War 2.

The Japanese were rumored to be occupying a small island near Alaska, and Canadian and US forces were tasked with destroying them. The only problem was that the Japanese were long gone by the time the Allies had arrived. This would no doubt result in a default ally victory, right? Wrong. Because of heavy fog, both US and Canadian forces shot at each other after incorrectly identifying each other as Japanese.

5 The Dogger Bank Incident


Sometimes being trigger-happy can get you in serious trouble. There is an interesting psychological phenomenon called “Contagious Gunfire,” which occurs when one person decides to open fire and everyone else immediately decides to follow suit, even when no one knows quite what they’re shooting at. This is precisely what happened to the Russian “Second Pacific Squadron,” or Pacific Fleet.

During the Japanese-Russian war, the fleet was sailing in the North Sea when the fleet encountered a number of British Fishing boats. The British fishermen calmly signaled to the Russians that they were just regular guys- and in no way part of any armed forces. The Russians watched the signals carefully, thought about it, and decided they were dealing with several Japanese torpedo boats. They then opened fire with everything they had, filling the air with the clamor of every gun in the fleet. That was when things got crazy.

4 The Baltic Fleet


The Baltic fleet at the time of the Russian-Japanese war really was a disaster in and of itself. After their little mistake in the North Sea, the British found out that their fishermen had been attacked and got pretty riled up. They sent their entire navy after the Baltic fleet, caught up with them and forced them to stop in Spain. They were then forced to apologize like little children and bribe Britain not to kill them all.

After sailing on to Madagascar, they were ordered to stay there until Russia could send them reinforcements that the fleet commander had already told them he didn’t need. After 2 months, most of the fleet had Malaria, and four ships had broken down due to sitting in port for so long. There were also three mutinies by the crewmen that were squashed.

3 The Battle of San Jacinto


This is a battle fought during the Texas Revolution in 1836, where the losing side was literally “caught sleeping.” The Mexican army was in a strongly fortified position, and they had worked hard putting up their defenses and preparing themselves for the enemy assault.

Because of their exhaustion, the Mexican commander ordered his forces to take an afternoon siesta, otherwise known as a short nap. The Texian Rebels took this opportunity to sneak through the tall grass and surround the Mexican Army, before getting their one cannon into position.

2 Operation Eagle Claw


During the Iran hostage crisis, the American people yearned for a way to free the Americans who were being held against their will in the overrun American Embassy. President Carter approved an ambitious plan by Special Forces to move in by helicopter and rescue the US citizens, and everything seemed OK on paper. But this rescue operation went down as one of the biggest failures in military history.

The plan was to move in to a part of the Iranian desert that was uninhabited. They would then board 6 helicopters to move in toward the Embassy, grab the hostages and get out. Things started to go wrong right from the get go. The desert was not uninhabited, as there was a road near to the landing site. Soon enough, a bus went by full of Iranians, which had to be stopped with the Iranians being taken hostage. Then an oil tanker drove by, prompting one trigger happy Special Forces soldier to fire a rocket at it, blowing it up and alerting everyone nearby to their presence.

They were still waiting for the 6 helicopters to arrive, but only 4 made it through a sandstorm. They needed at least 5 to carry all of the hostages, so they had no choice but to abort. The Rescue team then got back on the aircraft that brought them into the desert, and prepared to take off. This is when the real tragedy occurred.

1 World War One

World War One was a huge disaster because so many people died due to the lack of a proper understanding of modern warfare. These armies were stuck in an archaic mindset- one where the army who fought the hardest was sure to win. This led to mindless charges across the battlefield at enemies who simply fired the newly invented machine gun, mowing them all down.

World War One commanders also relied too heavily on cavalry, when fighting on horseback had clearly become obsolete. But perhaps the greatest failure of World War One was the fact that those who were chosen to lead the men were not chosen based on their leadership qualities, they were picked out because of their rich families. This led to incredible amounts of incompetence in times when it mattered most.


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10 of the Biggest Military F%&# Ups in History