Early on in World War I, soldiers in trenches started falling ill from a mysterious illness. The initial symptoms of the illness were generally short-lived, but recovery was often slow and painful. The culprit of this annoying disease was lice! Body lice were commonly known to the British soldier as Chatts. Not only did lice feed on the blood of their host, cause intense scratching and rashes, but also reproduced at incredible speeds. Men would gather in groups to de-louse themselves or “to chat” when they could. The most effective remedy was a bath and a change of clothes at a Delousing Station, but opportunities like this did not happen very often. To make things worse men would only be offered a full bath two or three times per month. Chatting became a normal routine during rest periods in the line. The other effective method soldiers used to treat lice was to run hot wax from a candle down the seams of their trousers and vests to burn the buggers out. Lice were a constant companion to almost every man who served in the trenches during the Great War. Conditions of trench warfare proved ideal for their rapid spread because lice could only thrive in warm conditions which was provided by body heat and clothing.
Post by Arvin Ramdas