Anzac Day – Trench Foot

Today is Anzac Day and we remember all those who served our country. Not only did they have to fight the enemy on the battlefields but they were fighting some pretty serious foot problems too! Trench Foot was a condition that caused significant problems for our Anzacs, their friends and their foes. During World War I, trench warfare was all the rage.

The battlefields were a series of trenches that when the weather turned bad, filled with mud and water. Although Trench Foot itself is not likely to have killed too many, related problems such as infection, gangrene and amputation are likely to have done a fair bit of damage.

Trench foot is caused when your feet are exposed to cold, wet and unsanitary conditions whilst wearing constricting footwear. The initial stages of Trench Foot appear similar to when you have been in the bath too long and the skin on your hands and toes goes wrinkly from all the moisture…now imagine the state of your feet if this went on for months on end!

The wrinkly appearance soon develops into blisters and open wounds which may also result in numbness, a change in skin colour due to poor blood supply and a strong odour. If left untreated or unmanaged, these wounds are likely to become infected leading to possible gangrene and even amputation. Once the seriousness of this condition was understood, soldiers were given a “foot buddy” as a form of prevention and were instructed to look after one another’s feet!

Our soldiers endured tough times during the World Wars. Separated from their loved ones and many fighting for a cause not entirely understood…none of us will ever be able fully understand exactly what these brave men and women actually felt or experienced.

Anzac Day is our nation’s day of remembrance which is commemorated every year to honour those Anzacs who fought or lost their lives fighting at Gallipoli during ‘The Great War’. It is estimated that about 10 million soldiers lost their lives during World War I while approximately 20 million were wounded. The Spanish Flu and other diseases ran riot and also led to some 2 million deaths during WW I, some estimates suggest that sickness and disease that spread through the trenches is responsible for up to a third of the casualties.

Lest We Forget!