d. Example: German Troops at El Alamein. The experience of the German
Afrika Korps in World War II exemplifies the consequence of a breakdown in sanitary
In October, 1942, Montgomery's 8th Army engaged Rommel's Afrika
Korps at El Alamein in what was probably the decisive battle of North Africa.
During September, October, and November of that year, admissions to
field medical stations for dysentery or diarrhea totaled only 2.5 percent of the 8th Army
strength, but the figure for the Afrika Korps was 20 percent.
From 40 to 50 percent of Germans affected were frontline troops.
Their campsites were filthy. Large amounts of feces lay on the surface of
At the beginning of the battle, Rommel himself was on convalescent
leave in Germany recovering from amebic dysentery and hepatitis.
Although the 8th Army would have outnumbered the Afrika
Korps at least 3 to 1 if all personnel had been fit, Rommel
nevertheless credited the defeat of his command not to the
8th Army, but to dysentery.
e. Example: US Army Airborne Brigade in Lebanon. The experience of a
United States Army Airborne Brigade in its 3-month occupation of Lebanon during the
warm months of 1958 shows the consequences of consuming unapproved foods and
Initially, C rations were the only foods consumed, and troops were
confined to olive groves away from the civilian population.
-- No diarrhea or enteric diseases became apparent during that time,
even though field sanitation facilities and practices left much to be desired then and
throughout the operation.
Later, B rations were introduced, and troops were permitted to visit
civilian communities, where many ate the local food and beverages.
Enteric (intestinal) diseases soon became a problem.
-- The incidence increased until as many as 85 men per 1,000 were
reporting weekly to dispensaries for diarrheas and dysenteries.