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Something to think about?

So I was reading about jungle warfare, without any thoughts of researching Pros, when I encountered a fact which got me thinking. Ummm. Possible warning. This may squick?

Quite aside from the insects, arachnids, snakes etc; larger wild animals (incidentally, for the sake of accuracy, in spite of claims that lions wouldn’t eat dead meat; while lions don’t have the stomach acid of hyenas to cope with rotting meat, lions are quite happy to steal the kills of other animals, including humans: lions are actually more likely to steal hyena kills than vice versa in some places in Africa – but then, both lions and hyenas prefer plains/savannahs to jungles); poisonous plants (contact poisons as well as ingested ones); malaria or sleeping sickness etc; or even plain old sun stroke and heat stroke, fighting and working in the tropics with both high temperatures and humidity and the consequent sweating leaves people hugely at risk of a fascinating range of skin diseases, infections and disorders.

In the right/wrong conditions even a mosquito bite or scratch can lead to tropical ulcers – which if left untreated with literally eat the limb away – down to and into the bone – with the possibility of gangrene or septicaemia.

Fungal infections – athlete’s foot, ringworm, thrush, etc - in particular, thrive; especially if the troops have lack of opportunities or inclination for adequate hygiene methods. (If you had just finished a 50km march and ended the day by having to build shelters and dig latrine trenches, would your first concern being either hiking down to the river or dragging water back to camp in order to have a proper wash of your “Fs and Ps” at least - face, feet, pits and privates - before collapsing onto your bedroll?) And of course, in combat situations, it might not even be possible. And clean, aired, dry changes of clothes might likewise be impossible – jungle damp will eventually rot and disintegrate clothes, bedding, mosquito nets, even leather shoes and boots .

Your feet are obviously a problem area – particularly if your boots and socks have got wet as well as sweaty, or if your boots don’t fit well. But so is your groin. Crotch rot – or crutch rot – for soldiers in jungle conditions can be literal. There are accounts of men with the skin of their scrotums sloughing off, reduced to red, weeping flesh. And one of the best/worst places to get a fungal infection for a man was under the foreskin.

There are accounts of MOs and field medics performing sometimes hundreds of circumcisions, either as a hygiene practice, or as medical necessity, in order to treat the itch.

So. Bodie. Circumcised, do we think?


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 15th, 2014 11:02 am (UTC)
I tend to associate one or other of the lads being circumcised with stories from American authors - it seems much more common over there.

I have never imagined that either of them are circumcised, but you make a good point. People have come up with various possibilities for Bodie's mercenary career, and I've definitely seen people refer to it as the reason why, for example, he doesn't like to let his hair get too long :)

At least one currently active fan is very familiar with some parts of Africa and politics and did quite a bit of research. I wonder where that was posted and discussed? Must ask her.
Apr. 15th, 2014 04:09 pm (UTC)
I don't tend to think of them as circumcised either (to be honest, I haven't really spent much time thinking about their cocks in any detail). As you say, it does seem to be far more religious (Islam and Judaism) than cultural over here. Though I suddenly wonder whether the American cultural *thing* started with all the jungle/tropical wars they fought last century? Pacific in WW2, Korea, Vietnam... even Desert Storm and this century's "War on Terror".

It's no coincidence after all, that many cultures of the Tropics and hot, dry/dusty places - in the Middle East; Africa (where as well as Islam - and IIRC Ethiopic Christianity - I seem to remember that circumcision (male - as one of my psycho-anthropology text books put it, if what they do to girls is "female circumcision", Loretta Bobbit performed a bris) is practised on pubescent boys as one of the ceremonies of "manhood"; Asia...

My brother's friend William (huh! Just noticed that!) also had a circumcision on medical grounds when he was about 11. (I have *no* idea why I know that, but I do!)

I just thought it was an interesting factoid and decided to share!
Apr. 16th, 2014 02:15 am (UTC)
Hi, moonlightmead pointed me to your post and that you might be interested in some discussions that took place on CI5HQ a while ago that started with golden_bastet’s post regarding characterisation and morphed into another discussion on Bodie’s mercenary history.

The original post is here:

And the second post is here:

You can add Bilharzia to your list of dread diseases! It’s from a particularly nasty parasitic worm that lives in the water – it’s one of the first things I was warned about when I arrived in South Africa (lived there from around mid 70’s to mid 80’s) – be careful where you swim! I never did venture into any rivers;) There are also leeches *ugh!*. Infections from sores/wounds/bites (including leech bites) can be common if they are not treated.

I think there’s a difference between jungle fighting in, say, WWII and mercenary activity in places like the Congo in that mercenaries would often be stationed almost permanently in a city or large town with reasonable living conditions as opposed to the horrific conditions undergone by soldiers pushing their way through the jungles of SE Asia. The mercenaries were still subject to all the little nasties you mentioned, as are people who work/live in such environments, but perhaps had more opportunity to pay attention to personal hygiene.

Male circumcision is practiced by just about every tribe in Africa and is a rite of passage into manhood. I suppose why it became part of their culture has been lost in the mists of time but I don’t think it was based on hygiene but probably more to do with perceptions of enhanced sexual pleasure or fertility. Female circumcision isn't usually practiced in the southen areas of Africa but common in the more northern countries. I think maybe circumcision went through a ‘fashion phase’ in America after WWII, prompted by medical opinion on hygiene benefits, I seem to remember some discussion articles and opinions around the subject when I was young and as Australia was rather prone to picking up American culture in those eras I believe it went through a popular stage here too. But I don’t think that happened in UK and I don’t think Bodie and Doyle would have been circumcised, but you never know!

Thanks for raising such an interesting topic! I'm glad moonlightmead pointed me in your direction:)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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