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A Different History Of Warfare

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  • A Different History Of Warfare

    This seems the best place to post something intended to lighten the mood somewhat and give us a fresh perspective on the seriousness of military history, so I give you:

    The Backside of Military History

    Military archaeology is a major field these days, with trench systems and bunkers being unearthed and studied in minute detail, but there is something else to consider: millions of troops dug in across Europe during WWI meant millions of field latrines dug, filled to capacity and covered over during that great conflict, the more so since this particular bodily function actually increases during times of stress. So I want you to picture military archaeologists of the future who unearth acres and aces of to be painstakingly analyzed to determine diet, bodily stresses, diseases and all the rest.

    Can history possibly ever be seen in the same way gain?
    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

  • #2
    One man's garbage is another man's treasure; I seem to recall that ancient garbage piles are one of the best sources of information for archaeologists.
    Wisdom is personal

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    • #3
      When the Coppergate excavation completed one of the things that they reconstructed for the public was the outside toilet. It had a three foot high wattle fence so you could chat to your neighbours while delivering your daily donation. No roof though. I should imagine that that speeded things up in the winter.
      "Sometimes its better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" T Pratchett

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Karri View Post
        One man's garbage is another man's treasure; I seem to recall that ancient garbage piles are one of the best sources of information for archaeologists.
        Yes, they are, which is what started me thinking, although truthfully I was thinking of the enormous amount of trash that must have been discarded by the armies all across Europe during WWI....and then my perverted sense of humor reared it's ugly head.
        Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by DARKPLACE View Post
          When the Coppergate excavation completed one of the things that they reconstructed for the public was the outside toilet. It had a three foot high wattle fence so you could chat to your neighbours while delivering your daily donation. No roof though. I should imagine that that speeded things up in the winter.
          Or when it rained? But then the Romans liked to use public toilets where they could chat, too.
          Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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          • #6
            The BEF in WW1 developed quite a complex system for emptying trench latrines which were usually located in a spur off one of the communications trenches connecting the front line trench with the support trench. Where possible a trench trolly line was laid so that that the contents could by pushed to the rear. The job of being responsible for emptying the latrines was according to Brophy and Partridge (The Long Trail) often sought after as it kept the men so detailed away from the firing line and there was often an unofficial agreement between both sides not to shell each others latrines (Ashworth Trench Warfare 1914-18). Both the French and the Germans also had comparable sanitary systems. This was essential to avoid widespread outbreaks of disease and the medical statistics show that on the Western Front at least this was successful. Matters it seems were much less salubrious on the Eastern Front.
            Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
            Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by MarkV View Post
              The BEF in WW1 developed quite a complex system for emptying trench latrines which were usually located in a spur off one of the communications trenches connecting the front line trench with the support trench. Where possible a trench trolly line was laid so that that the contents could by pushed to the rear. The job of being responsible for emptying the latrines was according to Brophy and Partridge (The Long Trail) often sought after as it kept the men so detailed away from the firing line and there was often an unofficial agreement between both sides not to shell each others latrines (Ashworth Trench Warfare 1914-18). Both the French and the Germans also had comparable sanitary systems. This was essential to avoid widespread outbreaks of disease and the medical statistics show that on the Western Front at least this was successful. Matters it seems were much less salubrious on the Eastern Front.
              And it was ultimately disposed of...where? All of the garbage, refuse and broken or discarded kit?
              Trench lines, BTW, the 60cm trench railroads, rarely went to the front line of trenches because of the problems inherent on being shelled, so I suspect a bucket brigade. (60cm To No Man's Land)
              Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

                And it was ultimately disposed of...where? All of the garbage, refuse and broken or discarded kit?
                Trench lines, BTW, the 60cm trench railroads, rarely went to the front line of trenches because of the problems inherent on being shelled, so I suspect a bucket brigade. (60cm To No Man's Land)
                Learn to read - I said trench trolley line which were narrower than 60 cm trench railroads. These were definitely laid in the front line... The BEF actually had a very efficient system of disposing of all sorts of waste products from the front - recycling where possible which was the case with broken or discarded kit. Fecal matter went into cess pits and was later used as fertilizer by French and Belgian farmers. Used tins were tossed over the parapet into no mans land and acted as early warning for the approach of enemy patrols. However as the war progressed these were scavenged by said enemy patrols and at first used to make tin plate toys for sale to earn the ordinary soldier some extra dosh to support his kith and kin back home and later for a bounty paid by a blockaded country desperate for tin. As a result the practice was eventually discouraged and tins collected and sent to the rear for recycling. The BEF had specialist scavenging and salvage units usually part of the Army Service Corps.
                Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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