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Some of the weirdest, yet successful War Tactics throughout history!

Ian Harvey

You think you have a crappy job? Think of one of the jobs Soviet spies had in 1949 – they had to go through excrement samples for Stalin. An ex-Soviet agent said that he witnessed Joseph Stalin spying on Mao Zedong when he visited Russia in 1949 by analyzing Zedong’s excrement.

Stalin believed that he could get top secret information from enemies by studying their feces. The ex-Soviet agent, Igor Atamenenko, told a Russian newspaper that in the 1940s Stalin had his secret police set up a top secret laboratory just for studying people’s feces.

A cropped image of Joseph Stalin during the Tehran Conference. I
A cropped image of Joseph Stalin during the Tehran Conference. I

How in the world did Stalin manage to get the samples in the first place? During Zedong’s 10-day visit Stalin had put special toilets in Zedong’s bathroom. Instead of the toilet being connected to sewers, the toilet led to special boxes where the contents were easier to whisk away and be studied.

Mao Zedong declares the founding of the modern People's Republic of China, October 1, 1949.
Mao Zedong declares the founding of the modern People’s Republic of China, October 1, 1949.

One of the BBC reporters said that since Russia didn’t have bugging or listening devices then like they do today, they used some bizarre tactics for gaining information.

Atamanenko had explained that if the results from testing the excrement resulted in high levels of amino acid Tryptophan, that meant the person was calm and approachable, resulting in it being easier to talk to them. However, a lack of potassium would result in a nervous disposition and someone with insomnia.

As one can see, this is one of the most ridiculous spy tactics that has ever been used. However, many people found themselves doing odd things to gain information on their enemies. Here are the top five weirdest war tactics:

  1. Ice
    The Night Bivouac of Napoleon's Army during retreat from Russia in 1812.

Yes, ice. It’s as simple as that. Many times throughout history people have found it difficult to invade Russia in the winter. The Teutonic Knights knew just how to be successful during their wars when they fought in Russia.

The Crusaders were actually better maintained and better equipped than the Russians. They had full plate mail and armored horses, whereas the Russians would’ve been beaten right away in a straight fight.

The Teutonic Knights retreated over the frozen Lake Peipus and turned to face the Russians. They had hoped the slippery ice would slow them down. The knights had followed them and did not realized the armor would weigh them down. This caused them to fall through the ice and those who survived retreated.

  1. Enemy of the enemy

On May 5, 1945 came one of the weirdest battles of World War II. Just three days before the surrender of Germany, Major Josef Gangl and nine men had surrendered Castle Itter and its French prisoners to 14 United States soldiers.

When the Americans arrived at the castle to evacuate the prisoners, they were engaged by the 17th SS Grenadier Division which had been sent to execute the prisoners. Gangl realized that the prison would be overrun before American help would arrive, so he and his nine men offered assistance to the Americans. Germans and Americans fought side by side, which was the only time that happened during the entire war. After a while, American relief came, but Gangle was hit by a sniper and killed.

  1. Flaming camels

When you’re desperate for escape, nothing is impossible; that includes setting a camel on fire. When Timur, the descendant of Genghis Khan, was captured and slated to be taken to Delhi, he set his camel on fire.

Timur and his men were faced by the Sultan and the Sultan’s 120 war elephants in 1398; Timur ordered his men to load their camels with as much hay as possible. As soon as the Sultan’s elephants started to charge, Timur ordered the camels to be set on fire.

The sight of the burning camels spooked the elephants and sent them back to the frontline. The Indian army was then trampled by their own elephants equipped with chain mail and poisoned tusks. Then Timur replaced his dead camels with 120 of the Sultan’s elephants, which he used to invade India.

  1. Waiting Patiently

In 1191, Richard the Lionheart faced the army of Saladin at Arsuf. He was outnumbered three to one by mounted troops. Knowing how much trouble he was in, Richard formed a defensive perimeter with his back to a river and waited from early morning until mid-afternoon.

His tactic was to make Saladin to get impatient and give up. After a few days, Richard had asked the Crusaders to move off their mounts and told them they’d have a better missile shot. After the Crusaders followed Richard’s direction, Richard and his men charged and unmounted every enemy.

  1. The Christian Burial

Hastein, a Viking leader, was hoping to take over Rome in AD 860 to prove himself. He knew that Vikings were great at pillaging villages versus cities so he came up with a plan to breach the city walls. He pretended to be a dead Norseman seeking burial in the city. Hastein had played dead in a coffin with his raiding force next to him and walking through the front gate. Even though the tactic was a success, Hastein found out that he had pillaged Luna, not Rome like he had hoped.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News