Tents and Malaria
The tents in which we lived and slept were sited on what been paddy fields. They were square in shape and held six. The sides could be rolled up. Coarse matting covered the bare ground. There was no electricity and we had no light after dark. We slept on our biscuits 1 on metal bed frames and under mosquito nets. We assembled the bed by placing three or four wooden slats length ways and putting the biscuits on top. This arrangement provided a home for more pesky insects, bed bugs, that lived between the biscuits and boards.
Lo Wu and all the New Territories were malarial areas and after sunset the mosquitoes became a persistent nuisance. Many other peculiar insects, flies and bugs, too many to count, plagued us. All in all it was a little rough.
Apart from our ‘boxes soldier’ – a kind of foot locker – and orange boxes which we scrounged to put at our bedsides as a makeshift, there was no furniture or other comforts in the tents. I noticed, as I had before in the early days at Oswestry, that those who had been in the Boy Scouts and done some camping adapted more readily to this life under canvas.
At first I didn’t mind it at all. It was always a pleasure to lie in bed and with the tent walls rolled up look at the stars. On hot humid nights it was pleasant enough to have a breeze through the tent. It was not so pleasant when in the middle of the night there was a tropical downpour and the walls had to be lowered. The worst part was finding a mosquito in the net and having to hunt it down for some peace before one could sleep.
The routine in camp was Reveille at 6 am, then a wash and shave either at the ablutions a long walk away or if the water was off there out of a mess tin outside the tent, paludrine parade, where to combat malaria under the sergeant’s eye one was given and then had to swallow a paludrine pill, a walk to the cookhouse of about a ¼ mile for breakfast at 7 am and then parade at 8 30. If in camp we finished around 4 pm and then we made up our beds putting our mosquito nets up. Dinner was between 5 and 6, and by 6pm long trousers had to be worn and jacket sleeves rolled down to prevent the mosquitoes biting. After that if not on guard or duty, there was no where else to go, or little to do other than a visit to the Naafi, and I noted I was generally in bed by 9 pm.