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#1 tony paley

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 03:17 PM

Being one of the fortunate one, my grandfather's pension and service records survived, although with some water damage. I am intrigued by an entry on Form /B108/1 , Casualty Form-Active Service. The central column for the particular entry reads:- Adm Hospital Boils 15.7.18. B213
Discharged to Base ex 14 Con Dep. 1.11.18 HA 31312
Reported to unit from Base 20.11.18 B213

I am hoping that a pal can give me some information re the condition. Were boils common, or possibly symptomatic of something else going on. It seem a long time to be hospitalised for this condition? At this stage of the war my grandfather was a 42 year old WO1. He was serving with 84 Heavy Brigade RGA. Also the reference to '14 Con Dep.' Would this be a convalescent unit attached to 14 Hospital at Wimereux ?

#2 Andrew Upton

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 03:22 PM


I am hoping that a pal can give me some information re the condition. Were boils common, or possibly symptomatic of something else going on. It seem a long time to be hospitalised for this condition? At this stage of the war my grandfather was a 42 year old WO1. He was serving with 84 Heavy Brigade RGA. Also the reference to '14 Con Dep.' Would this be a convalescent unit attached to 14 Hospital at Wimereux ?


Have a look at the Wikipedia article on boils (not for the squeemish!):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boil

It has to be remembered this is the pre-antibiotic era, and the even relatively mild medical problems of today could easily prove fatal back then.

#3 tony paley

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 03:29 PM

Thanks for the prompt reply andrew, I should have added that I have photos of Grandad on horseback. Could be painful!

tony P

#4 munster

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 09:47 PM

Boils could be very debilatating in their own right but as often as not were symptoms of other things being run down, infections etc and without anti biotics were slow to treat and could turn to horrible ulcers. Many men had to be let go sick with these because they could not wear their pack or webbing for the straps cutting the boils.john

#5 DavidB

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 10:16 PM

Tony,

My g/father was admitted to Catterick Military Hospital on 8th Dec 1918 and not finally discharged as fit until 31 January 1919 with a boil on the back of his neck.
According to him this ended his career as he had intended applying to join the RAF as a supply officer.

He always believed that the boil was a result of constant service in France from 1915 to 1918, probably as a result of nervous tension/poor food/poor living conditions etc etc.

He was WO1 James Hamon 278394 RGA and fortunately for me his entire service documents are available on Ancestry

Cheers.

#6 pietro

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 10:22 PM

One of the soldiers I have been researching had Impetigo and I thought that shouldn't be a big deal, but maybe it was!?

Peter

#7 hillgorilla

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 12:01 PM

One of the soldiers I have been researching had Impetigo and I thought that shouldn't be a big deal, but maybe it was!?

Peter

I imagine before the use of antibiotics it would be a very unpleasant problem. The same goes for boils, without antibiotics they could lead to much nastier things such as septicaemia and septic shock / death.

#8 PJA

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 12:27 PM

Remember that wonderful scene in the favourite film, ZULU ? Hook, the "Malingering Hector" undergoes the lancing of a boil. The doctor comments on the prevalence of boils, and delights in saying " This is going to hurt you a lot more than it's going to hurt me ! " as he jabs the offending boil.......

Phil (PJA)

#9 keithfazzani

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 12:52 PM

Boils were a big deal in my childhood (50's). i am not sure whether it was because antibiotics were expensive, not readliy available or restricted but I never remember any antibiotic treatment for boils. At school they were treated in exactly the same way as happened in Zulu and it certainly hurt. They were very incapactitating, and I should imagine in the hygiene conditions of the trenches highly prone to secondary infections. Do people get boils at all these days or have they gone out of fashion.

#10 David Filsell

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 01:06 PM

I was far more fortunate than my father - just after the war I had penicillin for boils. Dad had been subject to what was, after the Great War,and probably before to cure a boil;'cupping'. I understand it was a very common practice. Boiling water was put into a bottle. When the vapour drew of the bottle end was placed over the boil and the vacuum drew out 'the core'. It left a large crater on the back of his neck for the rest of his life - but he lived!
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#11 bigjohn

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 01:10 PM

I remember in 1980 I was at an outpost in N. Ireland , Amongst my other jobs I was acting medic and had a lad come to me with a large boil on the back of his neck, [KF shirts didn`t help] I lanced it with the help of boiling water, gauze swabs and a needle. Dressed it and a phone call to the MO resulted in a Helli drop of antibiotics, The lad was a happy gun bunny [with the Artillery at the time]
Regards
John

#12 Andrew Upton

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 04:43 PM

Finally found George Coppards account of when he got a boil!

"I developed a nasty boil on the nape of my neck and went to the first-aid post to get it lanced. There was no sticking plaster available and, owing to the awkward position of the boil, I was bandaged around the neck, jaws and forehead. It looked as if my head had been blown off. My afflicted appearance drew attention as I trudged back to the front line. One Tommy , no doubt thinking I was off my rockers as well as badly wounded, laid a restraining hand on my shoulder and said, 'Hey, mate, aren't you going the wrong way?' I had a high temperature and my head was rocking as I made my way back to the front line.

Suddenly I ran into a party of staff officers accompanying Sir Julian Byng, GOC the Third Army, on a tour of inspection. I wondered if I was seeing things. When about to pass by me, the general, noticing my bandaged head, stopped and said, 'Are you wounded?' I replied, 'No Sir'. 'Boils?' queried the general. 'Yes sir,' I said, hoping that he, in an expansive mood, would wave a hand and say, 'Send this boy down to reserve for a couple of days' rest.' I had no such luck. 'Beastly things. I've had them myself,' he said, and with that the general and his entourage moved on..."

#13 tony paley

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 07:11 PM

Thanks for all the replies, certainly makes me think. I was serving in Malaya in the 50s when I had a boil on my face and on my neck. this was immediately after a patrol. the MO tried to queeze with two small wooden 'paddles', no joy. Result was pennicilin jab and a clean up. Made my eyes water. The time that my grandfather was treated was at the end of a particularly active period. I also noticed that he had one period of leave following Vimy Ridge, thereafter he was in X Corps Heavy Artillery for Messines. the unit was then engaged in third ypres, went to rest in January 1918, in time to move to Arras, then into VI Corps on 21st March 1918, just South of Arras for the German offensive. I have no doubt these were stressful times. It appears he missed most of the ' last hundred days' returned to his unit following the armistice.



Tony P

#14 hazel clark

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 09:56 PM

Do kaolin (sp?) poultices sound familiar?
H.

Boils were a big deal in my childhood (50's). i am not sure whether it was because antibiotics were expensive, not readliy available or restricted but I never remember any antibiotic treatment for boils. At school they were treated in exactly the same way as happened in Zulu and it certainly hurt. They were very incapactitating, and I should imagine in the hygiene conditions of the trenches highly prone to secondary infections. Do people get boils at all these days or have they gone out of fashion.