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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy



The hard, stony condition of the ground made the use of trench latrines impossible. Bucket latrines were therefore instituted and were available when the First Echelon arrived in Maadi Camp. Movable seats were provided, but these were loose-fitting and were not fool- or fly-proof. Boxed latrine superstructures were provided later with hinged lids and proved quite satisfactory. The buckets page 50 were emptied by the natives employed by the sanitary contractor into large iron containers provided with lids, and carted in lorries to the outskirts of the camp. Here the excreta, along with other camp refuse, was buried in large pits six feet square and nine feet deep. The refuse was covered over with three feet of soil, and then three inches of sand mixed with heavy oil, and finally with dry sand. Incinerators, however, had been set up in batteries of seven, on the outskirts of the camp, when the troops arrived and were working well at the beginning of March 1940, but there was difficulty with the excreta. Shavings were then used to cover the faeces in the buckets and this helped in the incinerator. The refuse to be burned in the incinerators was mixed with sawdust, tibben (chopped straw), etc. Then kerosene-soaked sawdust was used instead of the shavings, and at the end of March wood and coal were used with better results. In April the incinerators were primed with sump oil. It seems that there was always some difficulty with the incinerators, and the pits were still being used after the first year of the camp and were necessary, in any case, for liquid refuse and for the ashes from the incinerators. The bucket system worked well but needed constant supervision. The use of sawdust proved of great value. Bowls filled with 1 per cent cresol were placed at the entrance to every latrine and the troops instructed to immerse their hands up to the wrists in them on leaving the latrine.