James Kerr - Beds and bed bugs

Running time
2 min 9 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


You're acclimatized to all these things like the weather. You're acclimatized to that. You're acclimatized, you get used to the fact that you haven't got an exhaustible source of water to go out and have a drink or go and have a cold shower to refresh yourself. So that's the way you lived. And when I went to Thailand, I had one blanket, which I ended up selling to get some money for food.

My bedding for the last couple of years in Thai consists of two rice sacks which are split apart open, and I lay on one, and the other was the top blanket. So that was my bedding for the last two odd years in Thailand, two rice sacks. And we never had beds. They built our huts and a platform of bamboo. It'd be bamboo which had been cut out and flattened, so we slept on bamboo slats alongside each other, but you never had your own individual bed or anything like that. And they always got full of these little bed bugs that'd bite you and suck the blood. Terrible things, they were.

The only way to get rid of them every now and again, we'd light a fire and take out the slats. You take your slats off the bed and you pass them backwards and forwards over the fire to get rid of these damn bugs. Oh, they were terrible things. Body lice, they were there but not to any extent because we never had much clothing. Lice was a big problem in the First World War, a big problem. But all they did there was if they had gotten into your shorts, you just took them and put them in the sun, and the lice would drop off with the sun being on them. They weren't a real big problem, but the bed bugs, they were a curse. When you squashed them, too, they smelled. It wasn't very pleasant.

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