Hygiene

From the Camp Crowder Central Signal Corps School Workbook

Introduction

Hygiene in the Army deals with the personal care that must be exercised by each individual soldier in relation to his body for the preservation of his health.

1. Care of the Body (Health and Cleanliness.)  The entire body should be bathed at least two times each week. Shower baths are preferable. Special attention should be paid to the armpits, crotch, and feet.

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Never allow your hair to become long and ragged. Weekly haircuts are advisable. Long hair is untidy and provides an excellent breeding place for lice, one of the main carriers of the deadly typhus disease. Hair should be washed at least once every week or ten days. Care should be exercised to rinse the hair carefully after each washing.

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Finger and toe nails should be kept clean at all times. They should be cut straight across to prevent any possibility of ingrowing nails.

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The teeth should be brushed carefully twice each day. Brushing should be done vertically from gums to cutting edge both on the inside and outside surfaces. It is important that you take good care of your teeth and visit the dental clinic whenever necessary.

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The feet should be kept clean at all times-preferably washed daily-and always dried carefully. Wear socks that are clean and without holes or darned places to prevent blisters.

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Eat regularly and chew your food thoroughly, By drinking plenty of water you will succeed in maintaining proper and regular bowel movements.

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At least seven (7) or eight (8) hours of sleep is necessary to maintain good health. Lack of sufficient sleep will cause laxity and listlessness which may prove costly.

As soon as you feel sick or believe that you have contracted a disease, report to the First Sergeant and be sent on sick call!

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So how does hygiene play any role in re-enacting... well. For the whole time the average soldier is in the army and not in training, most of that remaining time is not spent fighting. That is only a minor portion of his time, the rest is spent finding things to do and ways of passing time. Washing yourself and your kit is very important and would have been strong emphasized from day one of training. This is something that you should do on display, not all at the same time! It isn't an outdoors barbershop, but save that shaving task from the evening before and do it whilst the public and about. Below are a few interesting pics of soldiers washing... (a weird sentence I know!)

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When you look closely, you'll soon start to spot the same articles in many of these photos. The helmet for a washbasin/water carrier. The portable Coleman stove is interesting and proves that as well as heating food it was used to heat water for washing. Does anyone have one of these?

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On the box can be seen the wash roll that companies like SOF sell. At least there is some evidence that these were actually used! Sadly we can't even tell if these are officers or not. 

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A second photo showing the heater being used to heat water for shaving, the black metal soap tin can be seen far right. This is another item that is really easily available to purchase. 

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OK someone really needs to get one of these little petrol cookers! They are in far too many photos now...

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Of course it's not just the soldier that needed to be clean! Not everywhere had a laundry, I can't help but wonder what they did after taking off there trousers and jackets to wash them. Did they either put them on wet? Or wait for them to dry and walk about in boxer shorts? A very intriguing photo... however; please nobody try and recreate this scene at an event... I'm not sure how the public will react!