War is hell. But somehow, us humans have found a way to make it necessary through the course of history. From a country trying to expand its territory to a dictator trying to rule the world, man has witnessed countless battles.
War is more than just bullets, bombs and missiles. It is about how you defeat your enemy mentally. Some strategies are brutal, while some don’t even need a bullet to be fired. Over time, there have been countless techniques employed and witnessed on the battlefield.
Here are 12 of the most innovative ones:
1. The Persian used cats to defeat the Egyptians
The Battle of Palesium took place in 525 BC, a time when cats were worshipped in Egypt. Something Cambyses II of Persia knew and used to his advantage. He asked his troops to paint cats on their shields and even brought hundreds of cats to the battlefield.
As they invaded, the Egyptian archers were dumbfounded. They couldn’t fire at the charging cats out of fear of injuring or killing them, which was punishable by death at the time. As a result, they started to retreat, eventually getting killed and surrendering their city to the Persians.
2. The Allies used a magician to defeat Hitler’s number 1 man
During WWII, master illusionist Jasper Maskelyne was handed a bunch of guys – a carpenter, a stage designer, a chemist, a picture restorer and a criminal. He used all his resources to pull off some amazing tricks like using mirrors, lights and reflectors to hide the Suez Canal, thus protecting it from bombardment.
“The Magic Gang” came in very handy in North Africa, where Erwin Rommel aka the Desert Fox, Hitler’s main general was stationed. Jasper created a dummy army during the famed Battle of El Alamein. The fake tanks engaged many German aircrafts in the south, giving adequate time to the British to attack the north. He even faked an explosion of a factory to avert enemy eyes, while everyone inside kept working uninterrupted.
3. Julius Caesar used walls for a simultaneous siege and defense
In 52 BC, Julius Caesar lead a siege on the Gallic forces in Alesia with 60,000 men by his side. He encountered 80,000 men. To protect his troops, he ordered the construction of a wall in front, encircling the fortifications. He then got news that 1,20,000 more were marching towards him. So he built a similar wall at the back.
The walls prevented the reinforcements to reach the enemy and their supplies soon ran out. Although outnumbered 4 to 1, he fought two battles together, slowly weakening both sides. Eventually, the men at Alesia and the relief force surrendered to Caesar’s might. It also marked the end of the Gallic wars.
4. The Ghost Army of WWII that never fired a single bullet
It was such a well kept secret, that it was only revealed 40 years after WWII. Numbering 1,100 men, the unit consisted of make-up artists, actors, sound technicians, painters, photographers and press agents.
Their aim? To create battlefield deceptions. To do this they initiated a number projects, including creating inflatable tanks, planes & jeeps, fake pipelines, fake radio transmissions and sound trucks so that enemy recon units could spot them and report them as real. It was extremely useful as the enemy could never gauge the actual size of the army.
5. The British used blacksmiths with hammers and bags to defeat the German submarines
The German subs or U-boats had wreaked havoc sinking British ships during WWI. They excelled at underwater warfare. So Britain had to come up with some crazy solutions. Really crazy ones. One of which was hiring blacksmiths to tread the waters on small boats at night undetected, searching for popped up periscopes.
Their job was simple. To sneak up on U-boat periscopes and bludgeon them with a hammer or put a bag around it. It would blind the crew and force them to resurface, thus, leaving them open to attacks.
6. The Russians employed school girls with just 4 hours of training to fly inferior planes against the hi-tech German air force, and succeeded!
The Night Witches was a troop of school girls who were a part of the Russian Air Force in their war against the German airforce – the Luftwaffe. To aid them, the women were given 4 hours of training and inferior planes called the Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes that had wooden frames.
Since the biplanes were slow in speed, the German planes were unable to decelerate and hit them. While the planes could only carry 2 bombs each, the wooden frames made them impossible to detect on radar. These girls completed over 1,000 missions during the war and many of their planes survived the wrath of the Germans.
7. The Chinese used the empty fort strategy by leaving the gates wide open for the enemy to enter
This strategy was used by many rulers like Cao Cao, Zhao Yun, Wen Ping, etc. As simple as it sounds, it requires a lot of balls to try. Chinese rulers used to leave the gates of their forts wide open for the enemies to enter.
Then reverse psychology played its part. The invaders would probably think that there was an ambush waiting on the other side of the gates. It did not involve any violence but it proved to be extremely effective as the enemy would retreat.
8. The American Navy used potatoes to sink a Japanese submarine
During WWII, the USS O’Bannon spotted a Japanese submarine and decided to ram it. But they suddenly feared that they might be entering a mine zone and decided to pull back. As a result, they ended up being very close to the submarine without being able to use their long distance guns.
So the sailors took out some potatoes from the storage and started throwing those at the submarine’s gun deck. Thinking the potatoes were grenades, the Japanese were occupied in throwing them away and never fired a shot, giving the USS time to distance itself and use its guns. The submarine submerged but the O’Bannon used depth charges to sink it.
9. Timur used flaming camels to capture Delhi
Timur was a descendant of Genghis Khan. His methods were questionable but effective. Since all is fair in love and war, he used his camels and some fire during his siege of Delhi. Timur knew that he was to face the mighty elephants of the Sultan during the siege. So he asked his troops to put hay on the back of their camels and set them on fire.
The elephants retreated in horror once the camels charged and trampled many of their own men. Timur also used three-way spikes also known as caltrops to injure the majestic beasts during the siege. Soon after, he took the city.
10. The Russians used the winter as their defence
The Teutonic Knights (Order of Brothers of the German House) had invaded Russia and were fighting near Lake Peipus. They had better weapons and heavy armour compared to the Russians. The Russians realised this and since it was winter, the lake was frozen. So they decided to retreat beyond it.
The thin ice proved to be more than a match for the knights, their heavy gear broke into the ice and if not that, they continuously slipped while trying to cross the lake. Using their archers to their advantage, the Russians forced the so-called Crusaders to retreat.
11. Yugoslavia created an entire fake military base
In 1999, Yugoslavia feared an attack from NATO during the Kosovo War. To divert the enemy forces and save themselves from harm, they devised fake fortifications, fake tanks, fake plastic planes and even disguised cars as tanks.
Their efforts resulted in the creation of a completely fake military base, on which the enemy used up rather a large amount of ammo.
12. The Vikings pretended to be dead to pillage a city
Vikings were known for their pillaging and destruction of villages. But one Viking leader, Hastein, decided that he would pillage the city of Rome. He knew that his men weren’t skilled enough to simply raid it from the outside; they needed to find a way to get inside the city. So he pretended to be a dead man with a wish to be buried inside the city.
His troops carried him in a coffin and, once they entered the city, laid it to ruin from the inside. Although the plan worked like a miracle, he later found out that he had sacked the city of Luna and not Rome.