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The War Museum

Latrines: Albert Findlow

"I served with the Royal Signal during the Second World War. A funny incident happened to me whilst in Burma with the mobile Kinema section.

We were all Sergeants and it was my turn as orderly dog. One of the duties was to treat the field latrines with D.D.T.. The latrines were long deep pits surrounded by a hessian and then sub-divided for a little privacy. I had the assistance of a Naik, (an Indian Corporal) who inadvertently, picked up a jerry can of petrol by mistake. This was duly poured into the latrine. On smelling the petrol, I took the precaution of dropping several pieces of lit paper down to burn off the fuel.

Satisfied that everything was now in order, I carried on with other chores. An hour later there was such a boom. One of the Sergeants had gone to the call of nature, lit a cigarette and flicked the lit match between his legs. Boom! The petrol fumes had not been dispersed and of course they ignited. Out came the NCO, swearing and cussing, his private parts now hairless. Needless to say, the air was blue."

The American Civil War - 1864
Recollections of a Private Soldier - Frank Wilkeson

The next day, just before Longstreet's soldiers made their first charge on Corps II, I heard the peculiar cry a stricken man utters as the bullet tears through his flesh. I turned my head, as I loaded my rifle, to see who was hit. I saw a bearded Irishman pull up his shirt. He had been wounded in the left side just below the floating ribs. His face was gray with fear. The wound looked as if it were mortal. He looked at it for an instant, then poked it gently with his index finger . He flushed redly and smiled with satisfaction. He tucked his shirt in his trousers and was fighting in the ranks again before I had capped my rifle. The ball had cut a groove in his skin only...

Wounded soldiers almost always tore their clothing away from their wounds so as to see them and judge their character.Many of them would smile and their faces would brighten as they realised that they were not hard hit and that they would go home for a few months. Others would give a quick glance at their wounds and then shrink back as if from a blow, and turn pale as they realised the truth that they were mortally wounded. The enlisted men were exceedingly accurate judges of the probable result which would ensue from any wound they saw. They had seen hundreds of soldiers wounded, and they had noticed that certain wounds always resulted fatally. They knew when they were fatally wounded, and after the shock of discovery had passed they generally braced themselves and died in a manly manner.

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