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Trench foot

60 second histories

This video covers:

A gruesome description of trench foot and frostbite together with the cause and treatment available to soldiers

In order to prevent trench foot every man has to carry spare pair of dry socks at all times. At least once a day he must remove his boots and socks and rub his feet with whale oil, and it’s the job of every platoon officer to ensure that this done. If you’re the first nurse to tend to them just pulling off their boots you usually hear a sucking sound followed by the stench of rotting flesh, I have heard of cases where the flesh of the foot has come off with the boot. At the beginning of nineteen seventeen, we had a tremendous number of frostbite cases, poor chaps, their feet were absolutely white and swollen, they looked awful and even some of their toes dropped off with it. We had to massage their feet every morning and evening with warm olive oil, then wrap their feet in in cotton wool and oiled silk to keep them warm and then put big fishermen’s socks on them. It is vitally important that the troops look after their feet and not end up crippled for life.
20th Century
Medicine & Health
Trench Life
Medicine & health
WW1 nurse
Key words: 
WW1, first world war, world war one, British, soldier, nurse, trench, foot, trench foot, socks, boots, feet, whale oil, officer, stench, rotting, 1917, frostbite, olive oil, cotton wool, oiled silk, KS3, Key stage 3, Year 7, Year 8, Year 9,