The Xenophile Historian Newsletter, #26

The Xenophile Historian Newsletter, #26
( )

Greetings once again to all my loyal readers!  Charles Kimball is here again, to give you the latest news on my world history website.  It has been nine months since I wrote you, and I don’t know about you, but they have been difficult months for me.  I lost my job last spring, I haven’t found another one yet, and there have been two deaths in my family:  my father in July and my uncle in September.  Of course I’ve been hoping 2016 will go better, but look at the news; what a roller coaster ride this year has been so far!  But the main purpose of this newsletter is not to tell you about my troubles, it is to tell you what is new on the website, "my other child," so to speak.

Uh, maybe I should stop calling it that, since as of last December, The Xenophile Historian turned eighteen years old!  How long is that in Internet time, more than a century?  Anyway, I have continued to work on it, especially now during those winter days when my wife and I are snowed in.  Read on to find out what has been added.


Long-time readers will know that the main announcement in each of these newsletters is usually a new history paper on the site.  That is true here, but when it was completed, I did not send out this newsletter right away, because I did not want the new chapter to be the only item worth mentioning.  Anyway, over the course of 2015 I wrote a third chapter to the growing South Pacific history series, this time covering the years from 1781 to 1914.  I called it "Pulled Into the Modern World," because this was when Europe and the United States spread Western civilization to the South Pacific.  At the beginning of this period, the explorers of the Pacific Ocean were nearly finished with their work, so hunters, merchants and missionaries took their place.  Finally six nations (United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands) divided the lands and seas of this region between themselves.  In the first decade of the twentieth century, Australia and New Zealand went from being British colonies to independent members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, but the other islands of the South Pacific will not become independent until the final chapter of this work — if they become independent at all.

My oh my, I did not know what I was getting into when I began doing the research for Chapter 3!  Because Chapters 1 & 2 were not all that long, I expected Chapter 3 would be the same.  But when I hit the books and read up on this period, I found out how little I really knew, especially on the New Zealand wars between the Maori and the settlers, and the exploration of the Australian outback.  To do the subjects justice, what I ended up writing was nearly as long as the history papers I did in 2010-14 on my previous project, the history of Latin America.  And because I stopped with 1914, the year that World War I began, now I am wondering if it will be better to write one chapter or two, to cover the final century before the present.

Now here are the links to the four parts of Chapter 3, and lists of the topics covered:

Chapter 3: Pulled Into the Modern World

1781 to 1914

Part I

Botany Bay
Mutiny on the Bounty
New Holland Becomes Australia
The Impact of Western Contact
     The Traders and Whalers
     The Missionaries
Unrest In the Islands
     The Society Islands
Kamehameha the Great
Australia Developing
The Last of the Tasmanians

Part II

Britain Claims New Zealand
The Tahitian Kingdom
A French Foothold on New Caledonia
The Maori Wars
     The Wairau Massacre, the Bay of Islands War, and the Wellington/Whanganui Battles
     The Taranaki Wars
The Kingdom of Hawaii
     Kamehameha II
     Kamehameha III
     Kamehameha IV
     Kamehameha V
     William Lunalilo and David Kalakaua
There’s Gold Down Under . . .
. . . And in New Zealand, Too

Part III

Tonga: The Restored Monarchy
Cakobau Unites and Delivers Fiji to Britain
The Unification and Division of Samoa
Taming the Outback
     Ludwig Leichhardt
     Edmund Kennedy
     The Gregory Brothers
     The Burke and Wills Expedition
     John Stuart
     And the Rest
     The Bush Culture

Part IV

Dividing What’s Left
Hawaii, USA
America’s Imperialist Adventure
Australia: Six Colonies = One Commonwealth
New Zealand Follows a Different Drummer

OK, what else is going on?  Well along with a big new chapter, there is also a big update.  In December I updated the Chinese history series, to include events that have happened in the People’s Republic and on Taiwan since 2000.  Even if you read Chapter 7 in the past, it would be worth your while to read it again; that many changes have been made in the rewrite.  Here is the URL and updated list of subheadings:

The Establishment of the People’s Republic
The Great Leap Forward
"Women Hold Up half of the Heavens"
The Cultural Revolution
The Lifting of the Bamboo Curtain
After Mao
Tragedy at Tiananmen
The Rise of the Mainland Technocracy
China in the Twenty-First Century (so far)
Today’s China Syndrome
Taiwan: The Little Dragon


Meanwhile, with the already existing papers on the website, I am still finding new stuff to add, and I don’t mean new pictures or spelling corrections (pictures and corrections aren’t big enough to mention here).  I am talking about anecdotes that provide a whole paragraph of material, or even a whole section.  Stuff I did not know about when I composed those papers, but now is too good to leave out.  The material was also posted on my blog ( ), so for the whole stories, you can go there, of click on the URLs below that interest you:

The Dahomey Amazons and

Mt. Pelée Kills St. Pierre

The South Sea Bubble

The Real Zorro Was a Woman

Two Slave Revolts in Colonial Latin America and

Due to Lack of Interest, World War III was Canceled

How James Bond Got Started in Africa, During World War II


In January, I added Paypal links to most of the pages on the website with the words “Support This Site!”, so that those who feel inclined can make financial contributions.  I got the idea from the podcasts I have been listening to lately; they are supported by either donations or advertising.  The donation buttons will serve the same reason as the Google ads on my webpages.  Don’t worry, I plan to keep the content on the website free, except for what goes into any future books I write.  You may consider the donation buttons the online version of the jar near a musician or sushi chef in a restaurant; if you like what you see and want to encourage me to produce more, feel free to leave a tip.


And finally, at the end of January, I discovered a new social network,, which shows promise.  While it works a lot like Facebook, they don’t allow the worst nonsense, like spam and chain letters.  Also, any original content you post there (messages, pictures, etc.) is yours to keep, and they pay you a little money for your postings.  Check out Tsu and see if it is for you.  I look forward to seeing you there!

Here is your Tsu invitation.


So what am I planning for 2016?  Mainly completing as much as I can on the South Pacific history, of course.  With the Chinese pages updated, maybe I will update the Russian pages next, because Russia and neighbors like the Ukraine have been in the news so much.  And then maybe I will tackle Central Asia, and achieve my life goal of writing the history of just about everybody.  May 2016 be a better for you than 2015 was, and keep on reading!


If you missed older issues of this newsletter and want to see them, they can be downloaded in a zip file from

And the links below go to topics I mentioned in previous issues, that are still valid.  Please visit them, if you haven’t already:

The Xenohistorian Weblog, this site’s official blog.

My world history textbook, "A Biblical Interpretation of World History."

And my business website:

Take Care and God Bless,

Charles Scott Kimball

The Emu War


Here is another preview from my next history paper, which will cover the South Pacific from 1914 to 1945:

What you read next will probably go down as the silliest story in this work. Elsewhere I have talked about stupid battles and wars; for the South Pacific, the stupidest conflict was the brief Emu War of 1932. Be warned, what you are about to read did not come from The Onion.


Here, in one picture, is everything you need to know.

During World War I, the Australian government was looking for a good way to reward the troops for their military service, and maybe provide jobs for them, since most were not likely to stay in the armed forces after the war ended. They decided to offer tracts of land and money to any ex-soldiers who wanted to become farmers, and 5,030 veterans accepted it. However, some of the land was in desolate Western Australia, where growing wheat and raising sheep is only barely possible. Besides the desert conditions, it was hard to turn a profit during the Great Depression, when a bad economy kept the prices of their crops down. And on top of that was the emu problem.

I mentioned in Chapter 1 that flightless birds have a hard time surviving when humans move into their neighborhood. That is the case with the ostrich-like emu, and in most of Australia they are a protected species for that reason. But not in Western Australia; that state took emus off the protected list in 1922, after they developed a taste for wheat, and started eating up the crops of the farmers. They were also attracted by the water supplies set up for the farms. Finally, when the emus ravaged a crop, they left holes in the fences that let in the pesky rabbits. Being former soldiers, the farmers resorted to shooting the birds, killing 3,000 in 1928 alone. It wasn’t enough, and in 1932 an estimated 20,000 emus descended on the farming districts of Chandler and Walgoolan, a few miles inland from Perth.

Normally the Minister of Agriculture is expected to deal with a farm-related crisis, but the ex-soldiers did not trust him, and instead sent a delegation to the Minister of Defence for help. This gentleman provided two Lewis machine guns, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, and two soldiers to use them. Major G. P. W. Meredith would lead what was now a military expedition, and he would also bring a news journalist to film it. Against battle-hardened soldiers and up-to-date weapons, what could a flock of dumb birds do, even a very large flock of very large, dumb birds? Naturally everyone expected this war on emus would be a glorified turkey shoot.

They had underestimated their opponents. On the first day, November 2, the gunners shot at a group of fifty birds, but they dispersed, running off in different directions, and the few birds hit by bullets were only wounded, thanks to their thick skins. Two days later, they tried to ambush a thousand emus near a dam; this time they killed twelve of the enemy, the rest scattered again, and then the gun jammed.

Over the next few days the birds were so hard to locate and corner, that it seemed they knew the techniques of guerrilla warfare. One army observer on the fourth day sadly remarked:

"The emus have proved that they are not so stupid as they are usually considered to be. Each mob has its leader, always an enormous black-plumed bird standing fully six-feet high, who keeps watch while his fellows busy themselves with the wheat. At the first suspicious sign, he gives the signal, and dozens of heads stretch up out of the crop. A few birds will take fright, starting a headlong stampede for the scrub, the leader always remaining until his followers have reached safety.”[1]

Considered as on of the endangered species of birds in the world, Cassowaries live in the rain forests of Australia and New Guinea.

Horrors, does that mean the emu units had cassowary officers? Picture source:

At one point it looks like Major Meredith couldn’t take any more humiliation from the birds, because he mounted one machine gun on the back of a truck so they could chase them. How did that work? Not too good! The emus could outrun the truck, the ride was so bumpy that the gunner couldn’t aim at anything, and the chase ended when the truck hit an emu and its body got tangled in the steering wheel, causing the truck to go off the road and crash into a fence.

After that there were no more spectacular showdowns between man and bird, just isolated skirmishes that yielded about 100 kills a week. One month after he started, Meredith reported that 986 birds had been killed, and 9,860 bullets had been expended – it took exactly ten shots to kill each emu. The government recalled Meredith on December 13, and the Emu War was over. Because of the bad press generated and the embarrassing shortage of dead birds, the government declared that the emus won; imagine how bad it would have looked if there had been any human casualties! Afterwards, Meredith expressed an admiration for his feathered enemies:

"If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world. They can face machine-guns with the invulnerability of tanks. They are like Zulus whom even dum-dum bullets could not stop."[2]

Still, something had to be done about the emus. The government found it got better results when it just gave the farmers the bullets they needed to hunt the birds, and offered a bounty for each one shot. In 1934 the locals bagged 57,034 emus, and by 1960 the population had been culled to a point that the emu could become a protected species again.


A Google search for “Emu War” will yield several funny pictures of how artists imagine the conflict, like this veteran emu saying, “We’ll get you next time!”

[1] From Scientific American, The Great Emu War: In which some large, flightless birds unwittingly foiled the Australian Army.

[2]New Strategy In A War On The Emu,” from The Sunday Herald, July 5, 1953.

Meet Tsu


A week and a half ago, I discovered a new social network,, which shows promise.  While it works a lot like Facebook, they don’t allow the worst nonsense, like spam and chain letters.  Also, any original content you post there (messages, pictures, etc.) is yours to keep, and they pay you a little money for your postings.  Check out Tsu and see if it is for you.  I look forward to seeing you there!

Here is your invitation.

James Bond Got Started in Africa, During World War II


Today I added a story from World War II to Chapter 8 of the African history series.  It reads more like a spy story than a war story.  Here it is:

In the Gulf of Guinea, the Spanish-ruled island of Fernando Póo became the site for a secret mission. German submarines were refuelling somewhere in the rivers of the Vichy French-ruled colonies; the British Admiralty wanted to know where the sub base was, and what else the Axis was doing in West and Equatorial Africa. They figured the best way to get the intelligence they wanted was to steal the Axis ships currently anchored at Fernando Póo: an Italian merchant ship, the Duchessa d’Aosta, the German tugboat Likomba, and a yacht owned by a Spanish fascist, the Bibundi. To do this they sent a commando unit from the Special Operations Executive (SOE), an organization set up in 1940 to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance missions behind enemy lines. Few people at the time knew the SOE existed, and those who did gave it nicknames like "the Baker Street Irregulars," "Churchill’s Secret Army," and the "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare." What made this mission tricky was that Spain was a neutral nation, and it might join the Axis if the agents committing the heist blew their cover.

The mission was called Operation Postmaster, and it began with the agents sailing from Lagos, Nigeria to Fernando Póo on two tugboats. On January 14, 1942, they sneaked into the Spanish harbor, making sure they arrived on a moonless night and that they came after the harbor lights were turned off. Other agents distracted the harbor guards and the officers of the ships by inviting them to a big party at the local casino, where lots of liquor was served. While the party went on, the commandoes boarded the ships, and surprised the crews so completely that they surrendered without a fight. Then they set off explosives to break the chains holding the ships to the docks, and the British tugboats took off, heading back to Lagos with their prizes in tow. Of course the folks at the party heard the explosions, but they were either too drunk or too shocked to keep the commandoes from escaping. The Spanish government was furious when Madrid got the news, and called it "an act of piracy," but there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that the British government had planned the caper — which is exactly how London wanted it.

For more on Operation Postmaster, here is a page about one of the agents involved. I wrote about it here in detail because this and other stories about the SOE inspired Ian Fleming, a British naval intelligence officer. After the war, when Fleming wrote his James Bond novels, he modeled the James Bond character after members of the SOE. A lot of today’s pop culture came from that, not to mention careers for actors like Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig.