War's a nasty business. And not just because of the things we do to the enemy, with our tanks and our bombs and our bombs and our guns -- sorry, we accidentally started singing the lyrics to "Zombie" by The Cranberries for a second there.
No, during a war, we can even be extraordinarily dickish to our own guys. Throughout history, governments have tricked, tormented, and otherwise trolled their own populations during various conflicts. Here are six of the most extreme examples.
6 Random Women Heckled Men (To Fight In World War I)
Our modern, professional armies have more or less moved past the need for conscription, relying on recruitment programs that promise opportunity, travel, and brotherhood to potential recruits. But in the days of our great-grandparents, when the need for men to shoot and get shot was greater, they had to do things the old-fashioned way -- with a good, hard shaming.
In England in 1914, not long after World War I began, Admiral Charles Fitzgerald formed a group for ladies called the Order of the White Feather, whose sole purpose was to humiliate every man of fighting age who wasn't in uniform. The ladies of the Order would pass out white feathers to civilian men, not to provoke the tickle fight you'd get if you tried this stunt today, but to instead remind these men that they were giant chickens. If that was too subtle, nasty notes also often accompanied the feathers, to further drive the message home.
Zoonar RF/Zoonar/Getty Images
"Bawk bawk bawk bawk!"
Surprisingly for a system based entirely on mockery, it didn't always get things right. One documented receiver of a feather and letter, William Weller, wasn't even eligible for military service, and he was actively helping the war effort as a city architect.
Wolverhampton Archives via BBC
"Dear sir, do not build our town out of eggs and the stink lines of your own flop sweat."
Even worse was the case of a 15-year-old who lied about his age to get into the army, then almost died in said army, then was sent home, and only then was slapped with a feather by four girls while out walking and not dying one day. He reenlisted the next day.
Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
So, hey, wow, the system works.
Thousands of white feathers were passed out in this way, badgering an untold number of men to go die in a war that still doesn't rank too highly on the big list o' Great Human Accomplishments.
5 Canada Encouraged People To Sign Up "Cowards" For War
Meanwhile, in Canada, enlistment at the start of the first World War initially was quite high, but as the war began to drag on, and casualties mounted, and everyone realized how shitty war is, recruitment rates dropped.
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Again, this is bullshit.
Military recruiters responded by changing the tone of their campaigns. Whereas before recruitment drives had promised an opportunity for adventure and the chance to be a hero, they now began calling civilian men cowards and urged women to pressure them into joining. But simple chicken feathers weren't going to cut it in Canada. So the government turned to doxxing instead.
Canadian War Museum
"Please also write his three greatest fears on the back."
The idea was that you could take a card from the recruitment offices and wander the streets looking for still-living men. Once you put a person's name and address on the card, recruiters would go to his house or place of business and make him join up, no doubt using only the politest and least morally troubling methods at their disposal.
Canadian War Museum
What the hell? Was Dr. Doom the prime minister of Canada?