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War Surgery and Medicine

Rubbish Disposal

Rubbish Disposal

Where more permanent camps were established the disposal of rubbish was the responsibility of the Hygiene Section. This was probably the biggest task it had to deal with, involving as it did, on American rations, the disposal of large numbers of tins, all of which were potential fly and mosquito breeding places. These came from both New Zealand and American units. Usually the New Zealand hygiene unit was the only hygiene unit in the area. The problems involved were only partly covered by the standard Army Manual of Hygiene and, in view of modern warfare with its intensive use of machinery, traditional methods were modified to a large degree. Where ample soil was available, as in New Caledonia, standard tip dumps were made under supervision of field hygiene personnel. These were built over the side of a hill and the dump built up gradually and all refuse covered daily with soil.

In the coral areas such as Vella Lavella it was not possible to use this method. Here a bulldozer was put to use and a hole cut out of the coral, 50 yards long and 10 to 12 feet deep. Trucks could be run into it and the rubbish placed at one end. The rubbish was burned and later covered with coral by the bulldozer. Due to difficulty in keeping this constantly covered, it was necessary to insist on all tins being crushed to prevent insect-breeding in retained water. In other islands, such as the Green Islands and in the Treasuries, the machinery was not available to dig pits, and in both cases shutes over the cliff into the sea where there was sufficient depth were used. These entailed little work once built, but still required policing to prevent fouling of the area.