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 Soldier's Health in the AZW

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Martini-Henry

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PostSubject: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Thu Jul 30, 2015 6:31 pm

Hello all,
As a sort of follow on to the under strength
Companies at Isandlwana, I came across this article on
Military health & disease during the AZW

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

I'm sure many will know this. But us newbies
may find it of use. It obviously had some impact on
effective strength of Coys in the field.

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DAVID68

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PostSubject: Re: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Thu Jul 30, 2015 6:54 pm

Interesting read, thanks for the link. I knew some of it but it's scary how unprepared the troops were of these other threats to their lives and how medical science was still so behind. Still fast forward another 100 years and the people of that time will say the same of us.
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waterloo50

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PostSubject: Re: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:39 pm

Hello M/H

The document makes for an interesting read, it seems that the soldiers prior to embarking on the AZW campaign were quite an active bunch, some of them, it would appear could have possibly contracted Venereal Disease. I was reading a report from Lock Hospital (1868) where the problem of Veneral Disease was felt to be most prevalent in Military areas ' Since the admission of patients into this hospital, under the Contagious Diseases Act, from Woolwich and other military districts, the treatment of ..........' the report then points out, ' It appears from [the] statistics that about one in three soldiers suffers from some venereal complaint.... In the French Army.., at present only 97 per 1,000 men come into hospital for these venereal affections, showing that these complaints are 2½ times more common in England than in France, not one in ten suffering abroad, instead of one in three as in England. . . . Let us hope that the measures I recommended twelve years ago, and now on the point of being carried out in our garrison towns, may render the English soldier as free from such complaints as his Continental confreres

Source 'Dirty Old London', Yale University Press'

You have got to love the way that last paragraph reads.
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Martini-Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:48 pm

Lol - from my Army experiences soldiers & the clap are still with us today.
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Martini-Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Thu Jul 30, 2015 9:01 pm

So let's recap poor general health, a myriad of infections. Under established strength ( though not massively so), battalions, often poorly led - how the hell did we ever become an empire?
NB this is a joke .
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waterloo50

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PostSubject: Re: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Thu Jul 30, 2015 10:12 pm

Not to mention, Typhus, Typhoid, Cholera, diphtheria, Yellow fever and well you get the picture. The treatments for such illnesses were a little strange e.g. Bleeding, purging and blistering. No leeches at this point, don't get me started on treatment for what we now know as PTSD. In 1879 insanitary conditions were being addressed and the need for clean water for the military was recognised, as raised in the document you posted a link for. It was interesting to note that camps were recommended to be placed on higher ground to avoid brackish water.

Waterloo
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Brett Hendey

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PostSubject: Re: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:32 am

Also not mentioned was bilharzia (schistosomiasis), which is still prevalent in KwaZulu-Natal today. It is acquired from a parasite found in rivers, and, although it does not kill quickly, it is a debilitating disease that can become chronic if untreated. It may have been the cause of soldiers becoming "worn out" years after they were infected.

Brett
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Martini-Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:16 am

Thanks for that, I suspect that PTSD which was unknown to Victorian Medical science also took a toll.
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barry

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PostSubject: Health threats in the AZW   Mon Aug 03, 2015 3:23 pm

...

......added to which was the desease from the two flies, mosquito and tsetse . Malaria and sleeping sickness were very dibilitating.
Nagana was a threat to animals. Animals in vast swaths of country side were culled to try and control the latter. These measures were not too successful.

regards

barry
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Martini-Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Mon Aug 03, 2015 4:23 pm

You know this could go on & on, the famous fire at the Big Horn & the subsequent archeological study, threw up poor dental health, spinal defects ( from years in the saddle). 19th Century Armies must have been utterly unhealthy.
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PostSubject: Re: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:52 pm

Hello M/H

Sorry to contradict you but it looks like we may both have been wrong. The assumption that I had initially made about the Infantry suffering poor health was based upon the idea that most of these men would have been recruited from poor backgrounds and as a result their health would have suffered. The reality appears to be very different. What we don't always consider is the types of food and physical exercise that these men would have experienced. If you think about modern society and food consumption now, we are often reminded by the DOH that we should get our 5 a day and cut down on cholesterol, for the Victorians, this wasn't an issue, they had a remarkably healthy diet. Considering that they lived off of fresh produce, mostly home grown and that most forms of labour were more physically demanding than they are now it is logical to come to the conclusion that they were indeed healthier than the generations that followed them. Men recruited from the rural areas would have made ideal infantry men.

I have been looking at various resources with regards to the standard of physical health in the British Army.  From the resources that I have read, it would appear that the health of British soldiers was reasonably good in and around the 1870s but had started to deterioreate towards the end of the 1900s.

considering that the Infantry were recruited mostly from men that worked in physically demanding jobs, 'The mid-Victorian navvies, who as seasonal workers were towards the bottom end of the economic scale, could routinely shovel up to 20 tons of earth per day from below their feet to above their heads. This was an enormous physical effort that required great strength, stamina and robust good health. Within two generations, however, male health nationally had deteriorated to such an extent that in 1900, five out of 10 young men volunteering for the second Boer War had to be rejected because they were so undernourished. They were not starved, but had been consuming the wrong foods. This reality is underlined by considering army recruitment earlier. The recruiting sergeants had reported no such problems during previous high profile campaigns such as the Asante (1873–4) and Zulu (1877–9) Wars.

The fall in nutritional standards between 1880 and 1900 was so marked that the generations were visibly and progressively shrinking. In 1883 the infantry were forced to lower the minimum height for recruits from 5ft 6 inches to 5ft 3 inches. This was because most new recruits were now coming from an urban background instead of the traditional rural background (the 1881 census showed that over three-quarters of the population now lived in towns and cities). Factors such as a lack of sunlight in urban slums (which led to rickets due to Vitamin D deficiency) had already reduced the height of young male volunteers. Lack of sunlight, however, could not have been the sole critical factor in the next height reduction, a mere 18 years later. By this time, clean air legislation had markedly improved urban sunlight levels; but unfortunately, the supposed ‘improvements’ in dietary intake resulting from imported foods had had time to take effect on the 16–18 year old cohort. It might be expected that the infantry would be able to raise the minimum height requirement back to 5ft. 6 inches. Instead, they were forced to reduce it still further, to a mere 5ft. British officers, who were from the middle and upper classes and not yet exposed to more than the occasional treats of canned produce, were far better fed in terms of their intake of fresh foods and were now on average a full head taller than their malnourished and sickly men.

Source: National Library of medicine.

Waterloo50
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Martini-Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Mon Aug 03, 2015 6:26 pm

Thanks for that, I am happy to be proven wrong. It is my twin intentions to learn & debate. I know that the British Army highly rates the fitness of Roman Legionaries, they marched, & dug camp every day when in the field. Their diet was pretty good too. Archaeologists have asked the Legionaries modern counterparts to do the same & they struggled.
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waterloo50

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PostSubject: Re: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Mon Aug 03, 2015 7:23 pm

I am wondering if the soldiers of 1879 would have done better on the Legionaries test than their modern counterparts, I think that they probably would.Salute  



Waterloo
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PostSubject: Re: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Mon Aug 03, 2015 7:33 pm

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waterloo50

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PostSubject: Re: Soldier's Health in the AZW   Mon Aug 03, 2015 8:20 pm

Thanks for the links,

Impi commented on Lemons and Oranges and I have to agree that it seems strange that the benefits of these fruits wasn't thought about. After all, the Royal Navy understood the health benefits of lime.

Waterloo
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