• Full title Postcard 'Fighting Fleas (?) in Flanders' from HUNTER-WESTON PAPERS. Private War Diary. 11th Infantry Brigade of ‘The Old Contemptibles’. Vol. IX. France and Flanders. Aug.1914-15 Feb. 1915.
  • Created 1914
  • Formats Postcard , Drawing , Manuscript
  • Held by British Library
  • Copyright © The copyright status of HUNTER-WESTON PAPERS. Private War Diary. 11th Infantry Brigade of ‘The Old Contemptibles’. Vol. IX. France and Flanders. Aug.1914 -15 Feb. 1915 is unknown. Please contact copyright@bl.uk if you have any information about this item.
  • Shelfmark Add MS 48363



What was personal hygiene like in the trenches?

Both officers and soldiers suffered greatly from the pests of fleas and lice while serving in the trenches. To try and get rid of these pests they went to delousing stations. One such station is depicted in this postcard. Here the soldiers are shown bathing in large tubs while their clothes were being disinfected. This helped to kill off the fleas and lice. Unfortunately the lice eggs remained hidden in the folds of their uniforms and so the lice soon reappeared. 

This postcard was designed for the officers and soldiers of the 4th Division to send home to their family and friends at Christmas 1914. The 4th Division consisted of the 10th, 11th and 12th Brigades and was sent to France on 22 August 1914. The division later went on to fight at the Somme Offensive and at Passchendaele.


  1. Transcript


    December Bombardment of German position continued but no Infantry attack. After
    20th seeing Divisional Commander, I moved the men back into their old
    positions. I returned to 11th Bgd H.Q. level 20. General Pulteney &
    [Johnny Du Cane] & his two A.D.C.s. came to see me & congratulated the
    11th Bgd on their gallantry & perseverance. Congratulations also from
    Divisional Commander.

    21st C.O.s. Conference 9.30 am, till 1. Discussed Line of Defence to be taken
    up & [points whosoever observed] in the attack. Major Compton 2nd in
    Command of Somersets arrived from England cured of his wounds. [Auley]
    came to lunch to discuss the attack. We walked together to LEBIGET. I
    came back in car to see lst. Rif. Bgd billets S. of PLOEGSTEET. Wrote
    after tea.

    22nd C.Os conference at 9.30 am. as to strengthening own line. I then [move
    Euroflake] to 10th Bdg H.Q. to talk to Hull about the unfair [illegible] of
    the Defence of our line where it [illegible]. [illegible] & lunch. Rode back
    by ROMARIN & along the WARNAVE [rivulet.]


    4th DIVISION


    FROM FLANDERS Xmas 1914.

    Extract from This card refers to our washing arrangements for the men in the
    letter dates Flax washing Vats at PONT DE NIEPPE. On coming out of the
    trenches the companies go there in turns to have a hot bath
    to get clean underclothes & to get the lice out of their [ ] cloth
    clothes as far as hot ironing will kill these pests. 22.12.14.
    7.30 p.m.