Preventable Casualties Rommel’s Flaw, Slim’s Edge

Chef

LE
Slim knowing that fit young men do what fit young men do he set up medical inspections of sites frequented by soldiers. Unfortunately this got back to the UK and questions were asked in the House by a lady upset by the armies lack of morals. Slim was told to stop making it easy for soldiers to take part in these activities.

I think the lady was also the same one who complained that the 8th army was sunning it in Italy when real soldiers were fighting on the beaches.

It was mentioned on my Hygiene course many years ago that 1945 the the first year in the war when more soldiers died from disease then enemy action.
I think you meant the other way round.

As far as brothels went Montgomery proposed controlling brothels from the health point of view as well.
 
Who was it who said something like, "Among the very basic jobs for an officer is to get food into his soldiers and excrement out with as little mixing of the two as possible"?

One can perhaps see that the British might have a greater understanding of the importance of hygiene in warm climates but things like latrine trenches are hardly a new invention. There were British general orders for their location and size at least as far back as the Peninsular and I can't believe that the Prussians didn't have similar practices.

That said, one of the most illuminating things I read about the retaking of the Falklands was that in the two or three months that the Argentinians had been occupying the Stanley they hadn't bothered to dig any latrines, despite increasing the population by 10x. Consequently not only was everywhere covered in shite but dysentery was rife among the garrison.
The Soviets suffered huge non-battle casualty rates in Afghanistan in the 80's due to poor field hygiene and training. There is documentation about this on the web if you look.

Typical examples:

Poor hygiene facilities at camps and in the field.
Poor traiing of troops to keep themselves clean.
Troops urinating and defecating anywhere around the camps rather than building or using latrines.
Bread rations being dumped on the ground for collection by troops.
Poor hygiene conditions in cookhouses (failing to keep utensils clean, dumping of refuse in open pits etc)
Failure to protect troops against insect borne disease.

As to the Falklands...

I arrived at Darwin settlement on 3rd June. When I needed to answer a call of nature I went on a shovel recce to find somewhere out of the way. The gorse bushes between the houses and the nearby beach had been used as an open air latrine by the Argentines and the area was covered in plies of loose shit - it looked like lots of them had dystentry. Fortunately the cold kept the smell down and I don't remember seeing any flies. BTW, I had my dump in a hole on the beach and filled it in when I'd finished. We all kept clear of the area after that.
 

offog

LE
I think you meant the other way round.

As far as brothels went Montgomery proposed controlling brothels from the health point of view as well.
Same with Slim but in India, bearing in mind that he had spent a lot of time stationed in India.

When I did a search for this I came up with this journal.


Page 63 talks about Slim having a chart on his office wall to show hospital admission to see where problems may be or are going to be.
 
I arrived at Darwin settlement on 3rd June. When I needed to answer a call of nature I went on a shovel recce to find somewhere out of the way. The gorse bushes between the houses and the nearby beach had been used as an open air latrine by the Argentines and the area was covered in plies of loose shit - it looked like lots of them had dystentry. Fortunately the cold kept the smell down and I don't remember seeing any flies. BTW, I had my dump in a hole on the beach and filled it in when I'd finished. We all kept clear of the area after that.
It seems strange that something that's been known about since Roman times just gets ignored but that's human nature I suppose.

Just out of interest how long after you arrived in Stanley did some poor sods get dicked with digging?
 

Zhopa

War Hero
Surely the Germans were practiced in shovel reccies….
No, I have it on very good authority that they only used them as cover for other nefarious activities.

Screen Shot 2020-06-07 at 14.47.54.png
 

Zhopa

War Hero
Troops urinating and defecating anywhere around the camps rather than building or using latrines.
At one of my former workplaces you knew things had got really bad when even the Russian team complained about being allocated the same toilets as the Arabic team due to the low level of competence with which that team's members habitually used them.
 
Another huge asset the Allies had was penicillin.
By 1942-43 the Americans had it in mass production, but the Germans never acquired a viable fungus strain, and lacked the manufacturing capacity.
That allowed a lot of casualties to recover quicker.
 

Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
I can vouch for the Soviet form in the DDR. On exercise areas (we'd race to get there at Endex to discover stuff) the officers would normally have the use of a dug field latrine. The soldiers would crap anywhere and the results tended to be at the sloppy end of the Bristol stool chart.

Since there was no issue bog roll they would use letters from home, exercise maps and notebooks, sigs instrs etc. It was my job as tour officer to go 'fishing' in such locations. Oh, joy!
 
I can vouch for the Soviet form in the DDR. On exercise areas (we'd race to get there at Endex to discover stuff) the officers would normally have the use of a dug field latrine. The soldiers would crap anywhere and the results tended to be at the sloppy end of the Bristol stool chart.

Since there was no issue bog roll they would use letters from home, exercise maps and notebooks, sigs instrs etc. It was my job as tour officer to go 'fishing' in such locations. Oh, joy!
The wops did the same all over North Africa, seems bum wadder isn’t a requisite for ground troops
 
I can vouch for the Soviet form in the DDR. On exercise areas (we'd race to get there at Endex to discover stuff) the officers would normally have the use of a dug field latrine. The soldiers would crap anywhere and the results tended to be at the sloppy end of the Bristol stool chart.

Since there was no issue bog roll they would use letters from home, exercise maps and notebooks, sigs instrs etc. It was my job as tour officer to go 'fishing' in such locations. Oh, joy!
Would that be this then?


Sounds like fun.
 

Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
Would that be this then?


Sounds like fun.
That's the badger. Used to rumble through garrison and municipal rubbish tips, too. Soon learnt why the phrase 'on the rag' exists, since there weren't any 'feminine sanitary products', either. The job round the back of Beelitz military hospital (the Sovs preferred to send their Afghan casualties to the DDR rather than back home - good medical system and politically sensible) came to an end when a tour found an amputated arm. That and rumours of chemical weapon use.
 
If I've read this correctly, Rommel lost N Africa because his troops crapped on the ground and then became sick while Slim noticed that his troops were contracting malaria so he told them to take the mepacrine that they'd been issued and went on to beat the Japs.

No mention of troops contracting VD and the Germans not having any effective antibiotics whereas (in later years) the Allies had penicillin. Sulfanilamide, apparently, ceased to be effective due to overuse leading to resistant microbes.

Also no mention of troops wilfully contracting diseases in order to secure a home posting. Slim remarked that his third problem, after supply and sickness, was morale. Easy enough to leave an arm hanging outside of a mosquito net to avoid going up the jungle.

Rommel remarked that sickness was down to bad food but the article doesn't consider this. Were the German rations less suited to the N African climate than the British rations? Or was the method of food preparation or storage a contributor to sickness?

To me, the article attempts, poorly, to compare chalk and cheese by lumping all forms of sickness together then isolating single unrelated actions to "prove" a point.
IIRC, Afrikakorps rations went eyetalian quickly
Rice and pastas replaced potatos, lots of olive oil, tomatos etc. all sourced from italy or libya

To the landser used to meat and potatos and stew this was not widely welcomedand they positively despised Olive oil
 
It seems strange that something that's been known about since Roman times just gets ignored but that's human nature I suppose.

Just out of interest how long after you arrived in Stanley did some poor sods get dicked with digging?
I was in a Bde HQ - we had our own jobs to do. I suspect that the blokes from the engineers and the infantry battalions would have been stiffed for the donkey work...
 

offog

LE
IIRC, Afrikakorps rations went eyetalian quickly
Rice and pastas replaced potatos, lots of olive oil, tomatos etc. all sourced from italy or libya

To the landser used to meat and potatos and stew this was not widely welcomedand they positively despised Olive oil
The British had a similar problem at the start of the Burma campaign as many units has never had rice before. Slim did mention that he had 14 different ration scales covering the different units in his army.
 



Astor vs Nye Bevan..

"






"

Hansard Debate on the war situation 22/9/1943
She never got the better of Churchill, though. Two famous exchanges:

Lady A: Mr Churchill, if you were my husband I would poison your coffee!

WC: Madam, if you were my wife, I'd drink it!

Lady Astor, encountering an obviously well lubricated Churchill in the corridors of Westminster:

Lady A: Mr Churchill, you are drunk!

WC: And you madam are ugly, tomorrow I shall be sober!
 
I was in a Bde HQ - we had our own jobs to do. I suspect that the blokes from the engineers and the infantry battalions would have been stiffed for the donkey work...
I understand that, I was just wondering how long it took between spotting the absence and correcting it.
 

Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
Fame at last for Op Tamarisk after more than a third of a century:

 

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