WW1 France 1917-1918 A.E.F. large photo American soldiers delousing

$47.00 CAD

| /

Large photo that is comprised of two smaller photos. On the left soldier picking though his clothes looking for lice. On the right soldiers throwing clothes on pile getting ready for delousing camp.

Label on back:

The cootie hunt…The only members of the A.E.F.who had no res(pect) for rank were the cootties. No.1, a second “looey” in search for the evasive animal.  No.2, doughboys getting ready to go thr(u) the delousing camp.

Tape on back holding title tag. Some paper remnants where glued to album page. Couple of spots on front ’crinkled’ where glued paper on back

5” x 7 “


What is a cootie? Ask a World War I soldier, and you’d get a much more serious answer about a much more serious problem than you might expect. ‘Cooties’ was the nickname American soldiers gave to body lice – the itchy little bugs that burrowed into skin, hair, clothing, blankets and just about anything made of natural materials. For many soldiers, cooties were as relentless as their human enemies.

As Captain Francis Bangs, MP Company, 77th Division, wrote in a letter home to his father:

“Unfortunately the cooties or shirt squirrels as they are vulgarly called, are not confined exclusively to the trenches and I have had many battles with them at the same time that Jerry [Germans] was dropping bombs around me and I was trying to be comfortable in a gas mask. The enemy at home is truly the more insidious. I suppose a good dose of mustard gas would kill them, but I think I will stay in the dugout just the same.”

It was a challenge to avoid cooties in the trenches. Baths and delousing stations provided relief, but those luxuries were not always available. Many soldiers resorted to laboriously picking the cooties off themselves and their clothing one at a time. British soldiers called this process of delousing “chatting,” the origin of the word “chat.” American soldiers referred to it as “reading” their clothing.