James Kerr - Disease and ulcers

Running time
1 min 50 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Most of mine were ear and skin complaints and this and that, bits and pieces. I don't know why I was kept there for so long, really. I've got it written down, here, I was in from August '43, during '44. There in black and white. But I was very fortunate, really, my main complaint during the three and a half years was malaria. I had the normal skin complaints and a small ulcer I managed to heal, but I never had the debilitating diseases like cholera and dysentery that killed so many. Or the ulcers that took so many lives and limbs of course.

I can't remember how I did it, probably just bathed it and was fortunate that it healed. It was the size of the scratch, of course, and being in such a weak condition, it doesn't take much for an ulcer to break out. A lot of the men, of course, once their boots wore out, lots of us were barefoot for over two years. No footwear at all. Now and again, there was an issue of boots, but that was the standard Japanese army boot which was canvas top with a rubber sole. We never had socks, of course. The humidity and the wet weather, and some blokes with big feet. Some blokes just never had boots for probably over two years…their feet became just like the navvie's. You know, the navvies, cause they're barefoot, their feet get wet and that's how their fellows got that hard. They'd walk on broken rocks and they wouldn't even feel it.

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