Item 10: General William Holmes diary, 23 August 1914-22 February 1915 - Page 175

You are here


[Page 175]


wounds. In the South African War, five men died of disease to every one killed in action, and 20 were admitted to hospital for illness to every one for wounds. The Japanese recognised this and in the Russo-Japanese War they reduced these figures enormously by training their men to look after themselves. You can do the same by intelligent application of ordinary rules of hygiene.

Now we must consider the question of cleanliness and how to obtain it and preserve it, for that is the task we must all set ourselves if we are going to remain an efficient fighting force. Let every man make it a personal matter, and then the whole force is directly concerned. Personal cleanliness then is he first thing to be sought. This must be considered under the headings of (1) The Skin (2) The Clothing (3) The teeth (4 ) Food and feeding (5) Quarters.

THE SKIN forms a covering for pretection, but it is a most important organ for getting rid of impurities which have been cast out of the body or soak into and dry in the clothing, it becomes irritating and unhealthy, besides being offensive. So you see the necessity for the daily swim when it can be obtained. For if the skin is dirty it can't do its work, if the pores are clogged with sweat, the impurities that should get out are locked in, and the health must suffer. But if the swim or bath is unobainable every man should make an effort to wash those parts of the body where sweat and dirt are especially liable to collect. These should be washed every day if possible.

(a) Between the legs and buttocks.

(b) The feet and toes.

(c) The arm pits.

This can be done with a little water, in a spare quarter of an hour. Use a small piece of rough cloth or towelling as a rubber. Don't use too much soap, and wash it all off before drying. The daily bath is very necessary in the tropics, but if unobtainable do not neglect these simple precautions. The rubbing that accompanies washing and bathing helps to keep the skin active and healthy.

The hands should always be washed before eating whenever possible, for germs and dirt may be conveyed to the food and to the mouth by this means. The nails should also be kept cut short and clean.

The hair should be kept closely cut, especially in this climate, and the head frequently washed.

THE CLOTHING: As it is so necessary to kepp the skin clean and active it is equally necessary to keep the clothing in contact with it clean. Hence the reason for frequent change and washing of under-clothing. Do not wear the same shirt night and day: keep a spare one and change them. If possible keep extra ones clean and change them frequently. Socks require careful attention, for if neglected the feet become soft and unfit for marching. A dirty foot is an unsound foot. Change socks frequently and keep them clean and washed.

THE TEETH need careful attention for all solid food has to be ground up by them. Use the tooth brush daily, using boiled water for this purpose.

FOOD AND FEEDING: This is a most important question, for much of the sickness on service comes through neglect in this quarter. Every man is personally concerned in this and should see that those who handle his food do so properly. The hands and clothes of all persons who handle food or cooking utensils should be clean. The bread and meat stores should be kept clean and tidy, well ventilated and free from flies.  Mess tables, eating utensils, knives, forks and spoons should be thoroughtly clean. The latter should be washed in boiled water only, and dried on clean towles. Chew your food thoroughly, and do not swallow it in lumps.

QUARTERS: This includes mess rooms, sleeping quarters, surroundings, latrines, refuse pits, etc. Rules are laid down for the care of these, and all men should make it their business to see that they are carried out, not only because they are orders, but also because neglect of these will surely bring sickness amongst you, and, as I have said, it is usually the innocent ones who suffer.

Remember that on active service the chief danger to you is not from the enemy, but from disease bred in one's own camp. The most serious disease arising from sanitary neglect are typhoid, (enteric) fever and dysentery: and these spread from infected water, and from dirty and neglected latrines. Look to these things and bear in mind the great importance of cleaniness. If every man does this, the Australian Naval and Military Expedition will establish a record for health and sanitation, and by proud of the great number of men who alsways "KEEP FIT".

Government Gazette.

Literary contributions for publication in future issues of the Government Gazette are invited from members of the Expeditionary Force, to be addressed to The Editor, Government Gazette, ADministration Headquarters, Rabaal.

This page has its status set to Completed and is no longer transcribable.