By Jamie Pritchard
As we gather closer to Remembrance Day our minds take us to the thought of the brave soldiers fighting in the trenches, thousands of miles away from home to protect our rights, with little regards for their own we conjure up bombs dropping and bullets flying everywhere – utter chaos.
I guess what we don’t think of are the less prominent dangers and perils they faced. Beyond the physical battle wounds, they also died of perils in the trenches caused by exposure to extreme weather, lack of hygiene and unthinkable conditions.
The cold and wet conditions brought on Trench Foot. On top of mother natures conditions, the soldiers would stand in puddles of rain and of their own waste. As a result, feet swelled, went numb to a point there was no feeling whatsoever. Some so extreme their feet had to be amputated. It is a painful experience and it is estimated over 20,00 soldiers were getting treated from this horrific diseases in the first 2 great wars. In order to prevent this disease from spreading or occurring the soldiers would have to wear two to three pairs of socks.
Lice caused Influenza known as Trench Influenza. This disease was said to have killed more people than the war itself. The Trenches were verily filthy and thus the soldiers were filthy creating a perfect storm for lice which caused the soldiers to itch unceasingly. It was difficult to wash clothing and the lice would lay their eggs in the seams of the cloth. The eggs would hatch and the lice, being very infectious and dangerous, caused the soldiers pain with a high fever.
The trenches were filled with Rats in search of food scraps and the opportunity to feed on the fallen soldiers. The rats flourished, and a single pair of rats can produce hundreds of babies per year – there were rats everywhere. The rats carried many diseases that quickly spread to the soldiers and there was no way to stop them – ammunition could not be used s it was to valuable and created too much noise.
The silent disease originally referred to as being Shell Shocked and later referred to as PTSD was a common disease that caused the soldiers to have psychological trauma. The soldiers witnessed first hand a lot of horrific images and experienced things that the rest of could not fathom. Soldiers that experienced Shell Shock were mentally and physically disabled for years.
On November 11 at 11 am put your hand on your heart and bow your head – and give thanks for those who endured for you.
Jamie Pritchard is President of Roxton Industries – All things clean!
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