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  1. #1
    Contributing Member Flying10uk's Avatar
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    The Fighting Lady

    On this documentary film at around 40.55 it states that the aircrew are washing/cleaning themselves before battle, in case they are injured, so as to reduce the chances of infection. I was personally interested when I heard this because I am a first aider. It is normal practice to keep a wound/injury clean after it has happened in order to reduce the chances of infection but this is the first time that I have heard it stated before the wound/injury has actually happened. I have seen various documentaries, over the years, of Britishicon soldiers on training exercises, "in the field", and the importance being taught of keeping one's-self clean. I have not heard any reason given before and have just assumed that keeping clean was simply a matter of military discipline etc.

    I wondered if any serving or ex-seving members had been told of the reason or have heard of the importance of keeping clean before battle, in case of being wounded, and so reducing the chances of infection? Obviously it is much easier to wash/shower if operating from a ship or airfield than if you are in a trench in the middle of nowhere.

    Thanks for any replies.


    Last edited by Flying10uk; 05-09-2019 at 01:56 PM.

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    Really Senior Member Paul S.'s Avatar
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    Historically and before antibiotics a high percentage of wounded soldiers died from infected wounds after bullets, shrapnel, etc. passed through soiled clothing, skin, etc. Infections in the tropics during WWII were common since even sweat and body oils can harbour bacteria. Mind you, much of that pre-dated the introduction of anti-biotics. That said, one of the reasons we were required to be clean shaven was to help prevent facial wound infections even during Vietnam despite anti-biotics being readily available.

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying10uk View Post
    I wondered if any serving or ex-seving members had been told of the reason or have heard of the importance of keeping clean before battle, in case of being wounded, and so reducing the chances of infection? Obviously it is much easier to wash/shower if operating from a ship or airfield than if you are in a trench in the middle of nowhere
    In the infantry, we paid it no attention. Prepare for battle, move off and see what comes. We didn't get the wash basins out before an attack. This thing of shaving every day was discipline and nothing more. Wash and shave and reapply camouflage cream...foolishness.

    Over in Afghanistan they stopped all that and put the water inside them instead of washing and shaving in the field. They would save that for between in camp. Clean between and in action try and stay alive. The airforce and navy are something different.
    Regards, Jim

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    Really Senior Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    Agreed with BAR. In our campaigns in south Angola you went out and didn't return for 3-6 months. Very dry area except rainy season; no shops or roads, no internet, no phone reception. You use water for coffee, drinking. Shave if there is enough water, there are many very good reasons for soldiers shaving every day. Wash clothes when you are back in base. You can only carry so much when you operate on foot and resupply is every two weeks perhaps and the enemy don't want to contribute willingly enough.
    But cleanliness remained a very important part of daily discipline, to prevent sickness decreasing combat efficiency. How to you do it without water? Yes there are ways, you survive without toilet paper too.

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    I was never in a place where we were short of water, the problem was getting half a chance to use it! If it was a small river or stream you could get in for a very quiet splash around but 3 others had to keep watch. I had a picture of us river crossing a deep ravine in the safe training area (white areas) and the river could turn into a raging torrent within half an hour in the monsoon. You just got to stink like a sxxx-house in a heatwave for days on end. But so did everyone else. We all had very short hair. Does anyone else remember the little bricks of 'jungle soap' that had no smell and so said, would lather up in any water, even the really salty mangrove water? It didn't of course and whether it actually washed you was a matter of opinion. Our biggest problems was insect bites that got infected and the sodding leeches. Get rough getting leeches off/out and......... anyway.

    Water....., On ops we had small 2" x 2" brown tin of water purifying/sterilising tablets to use. 2 bottles inside, i of blue tabs and i of white tabs. I forget how we had to mix them but the water was still a putrid brown colour even when you filtered it through a square of parachute silk. And tasted of crap instead of shxx. Any other nations have these little water purifiers?
    Added a bit.... One of the Training Wing Sgts was Sgt Sawyer (or Sayer?) who got the BEM in SVn later, looked at us mixing these daft tablets into the putrid water. His reply when told that it still looked dirty, muddy and putrid just replied '.....just fxxxxxx drink it'. No sympathy from him.

    Strange how it all seems funny after all these years but you never thought anything of it.

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Laidlericon View Post
    On ops we had small 2" x 2" brown tin of water purifying/sterelising tablets to use
    We had bottles, sealed with wax. We used one if clear water and two if murky... Gave you a whole different feeling inside. We taped them to the top of the water bottle cap flexi.
    Regards, Jim

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    That movie is shown every day on the hangar deck of USS Yorktown CV-10 at Patriot's Point in Charleston, SC. She's a nice display, if you ever get the chance to visit.




    Bob
    "It is said, 'Go not to the elves for counsel for they will say both no and yes.' "

    Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion, The Fellowship of the Ring

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