WW1 Photos Centenary Website: 2014-2018 By Paul Reed

French Front: The Hunt for Lice in the Trenches

The problem of body lice in the Great War was not confined to any nation or group of soldiers; everyone who served anywhere near the front line or in billets was affected by it.

In this stereo-card a French soldier in a reserve trench is one of a number of soldiers who have removed most of their uniform and spread them about the trench while they hunt for lice. It is also likely they were using this as an opportunity to do some basic cleaning but obviously this sort of cleaning could not be done in the front or support lines. Although many British soldiers considered French trenches far more ‘dirty’ than their own, all front line soldiers were afflicted by lice, something many were still ashamed of to a certain extent when I interviewed WW1 veterans in the 1980s.

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