30 June 2017
Bathhouses On The Western Front Part III

While on the Lens sector in the midst of winter, Sgt. Frank S. Iriam had another lively experience after coming out of the bathhouse:

“I had a hot time with an undershirt that I got one day. Just before we came into the line, we were rushed to the baths and then went directly from there into the trenches. I had drawn a very tight-fitting under shirt of heavy wool at the bathing house lottery and it was binding me in the armpits. I marched about a mile with full equipment and began to perspire a bit. Talk about (coming to life), I’ll say that shirt did nothing else but. I thought my skin was on fire. The thing was literally alive and moving. I had to strip right in the communication trench and get rid of that shirt quick. I flung it as far as I could in the snow and went shirtless until the next bath day.”  (Iriam,  In The Trenches – 1914-1918, p. 187).

Clean underclothes being issued to a soldier from piles in the storehouse after a bath. Ypres, 1st Anzac Corps. The baths were rarely as clean and orderly as this photograph suggests – this was likely an “ideal” representation set up for propaganda purposes.
© IWM (E(AUS) 1132)