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Trench Fever

Although unconfirmed until after the war, one of the biggest enemies soldiers faced was lice! They thrived in squalid, unhygienic trench conditions and were carriers of bacteria causing the mysterious disease known as Trench Fever, along with typhus and scabies. And they made men, already suffering under appalling conditions, unbearably itchy, irritable and depressed!

To try and combat this, the work of the Medical Corps included sanitation, “cleansing stations” where men were able to bathe and their uniforms and blankets were steam-cleaned. Watch as freshly bathed soldiers, wrapped in blankets, hand in their uniforms for cleansing and the Fodden Lorry Disinfector is put through its paces.

Year:1917

LocationMDS 3 Field Ambulance Pont D'Achelles

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Trench Fever

Although unconfirmed until after the war, one of the biggest enemies soldiers faced was lice! They thrived in squalid, unhygienic trench conditions and were carriers of bacteria causing the mysterious disease known as Trench Fever, along with typhus and scabies. And they made men, already suffering under appalling conditions, unbearably itchy, irritable and depressed!

To try and combat this, the work of the Medical Corps included sanitation, “cleansing stations” where men were able to bathe and their uniforms and blankets were steam-cleaned. Watch as freshly bathed soldiers, wrapped in blankets, hand in their uniforms for cleansing and the Fodden Lorry Disinfector is put through its paces.


Year: 1917

Length: 1:25

Production Company: NZ Official Photographer, Captain H A Sanders. Pathe Freres

Credits: Photography: H.A. Sanders

Source: Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Catalogue Reference: Work of the New Zealand Medical Corps


Location: MDS 3 Field Ambulance Pont D'Achelles

Tags: Lice

Subject: World War 1914-1916, New Zealand, Lice, Trench conditions, Fodden Lorry Disinfector


The operation of the sanitary section. Men are seen entering the Divisional baths and handing their clothing and blankets to men running Fodden Lorry Disinfector with two Thresh Chambers which could each deal with 30 blankets an hour (20 minutes in heating 20 minutes in steaming and 20 minutes in drying). This was to kill the lice which infected most front-line soldiers and which was responsible for much of the disease, and scabies found in the trenches.  The Divisional Baths could shower 1000 men a day and had a laundry attached which employed 150 women who laundered and repaired 40,000 items of clothing a week.