'Fighting Fleas (?) in Flanders', 4th Division Christmas card, 1914
Despite the humour of this Christmas card, infestation with vermin was a serious problem for soldiers during World War One (1914-1918). Washing facilities were very limited in the trenches and sanitation was basic. With so many men living in cramped and unhygienic conditions, parasites like fleas and lice thrived. As well as causing itching, the latter also spread trench fever. From 1915 to 1918 between one-fifth and one-third of all British troops reported ill had the disease.
From a collection of three photographs and several collections of postcards collected by RSM Arthur George Harrington, King's Royal Rifle Corps and London Rifle Brigade, 1899-1914.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum, Out of Copyright
National Army Museum, Study collection