Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Toilets! Huh! What Are They Good for?

 For various reasons to do with the obsessions of a close acquaintance, we end up reading a lot of soldiers'  autobiographies and war accounts. We have quoted Andy McNab, that stalwart of the ex-soldier action thriller, on the odd occasion, and have furthermore done one or two reports on military bogs. Today, however, we up the ante by giving you photos of genuine field toilets, not those pansy-arse, toilet-paper-providing garrison toilets!

As much as we'd love to be able to travel to Afghanistan to give you an in-depth report on toilet conditions there, we will have to content ourselves, for the moment, with viewing them by proxy. We came across a most interesting book called Infidel (London: Chris Boot Ltd, 2010) by Tim Hetherington, a photojournalist. Hetherington spent time with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team of the U. S. Army in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, in 2007 and 2008, making a documentary called Restrepo.

He says,

"Burning the poop" was even more unpleasant than actually having to use the "shitter". During the summer, when temperatures in the valley could soar, I'd often avoid having to use the facility for as long as humanly possible. Eventually, lower-ranking soldiers would be assigned the task of stirring and burning the tank when it was full. (p. 236)

The shitter

"'Piss tubes' at the main Kerengal outpost" (p. 236)
 We also, for the same various reasons to do with the obsessions of a close acquaintance, recently watched the Ross Kemp Afghanistan documentary. We recall one of the soldiers saying, when asked what he would miss most on going to war: "Bog roll. A nice bog to sit on."


  1. In Kate Adie's book "The Kindness of Strangers" she mentions the embarrassment about having to wait 'til after dark to be able to use the "desert rose" urinals...and then finding out the lads have got NVGs and can see her anyway!!

    And what's more, there's a copy on the shelf opposite the counter iirc...

  2. Oooh, thanks very much, Lunchista! We're pretty sure we've seen this book in Oxfam - expect an update soon!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...