Filthy chat with men
In spreading from person to person lice required close proximity of a new potential host - and this was readily provided as men huddled together to preserve a degree of warmth.Also commonly referred to as 'chats', Lice often spread disease, the unique so-called Trench Fever.
Although this - and occasional immersion of clothes in a solution of Naphthalene - would bring temporary relief the problem soon re-asserted itself as lice eggs which remained undetected in clothing would hatch within a matter of hours; frenzied scratching did not help.Lice - pale fawn in colour - would produce blotchy red marks across the body and leave behind a faintly sour smell. Each female could produce as many as a dozen fresh eggs per day, which would hatch within a month (and often within half half that time).The fact that men would only be offered a full bath two or three times per month merely exacerbated the issue.Lice infestation was the norm in the trenches - it is estimated that up to 97% of officers and men who worked and lived in the trenches were afflicted with lice. Men who returned home on leave were not likewise affected and the end of the war in November 1918 brought an end to the problem of infestation.Fortunately for the lice population, if not for their hosts, conditions of trench warfare proved ideal for their rapid spread.