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Kangaroos – The 100 Days Project: Day 60 [41]

White Feathers

On the one hand young men who had perfected their marksmanship by shooting kangaroos taking their skills into the battles of the First World War, in some cases in regiments using live kangaroos as their mascots, and, on the other, men choosing to stay at home – in this case continuing to hunt kangaroos – and risking a white feather (symbol of cowardice) for doing so. Bravery or otherwise, it seems, roo shooting had to go on.

The giving of white feathers was very popular in Britain and various countries through the Empire. In the United States, strangely, the white feather became a symbol of bravery.

(P.S. I imagine the one on the left thinks he looks like Wyatt Earp.)

While the war raged professional kangaroo shooters continued to work, preferring to shoot defenceless wildlife rather than using their skill with a rifle to defend their mother-country and their mates, who were bravely dying in the trenches of Gallipoli and on the Western Front.


            – Ray Mjadwesch, Kangaroos in Australia: A Forgotten History of  

                Habitat Loss & Persecution 1788–1970 (unpublished MA thesis)

A kangaroo shooting party, Pilton 1917 – send them a white feather: State Library of Queensland

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