Posted by Joe Hartnett on Sep 3, 2014 in Good Giants Blog
In camp and in barracks, before you entered combat, all latrines were wide open, as many as twenty places in a row. Soldiers socialized while doing their thing. Each latrine on the line was about eight to ten feet long, a foot wide, and about two feet deep, dug out of sight of German observation posts. A pile of dirt with a shovel was kept alongside the latrine. The shovel and dirt were used to cover up any leavings. Officers had their own area. In combat zones soldiers from the Ammunition and Pioneer (A&P) platoon dug latrines for those of you at battalion headquarters. Members of the A&P, in addition to digging, carried ammunition to the battle zones.
Getting caught using a latrine during heavy shelling was quite exciting.
Getting caught using the latrine during a heavy shelling was quite exciting. Those were the formal arrangements, but anyone could “let their load beside the road and go on quite contented.” In the rear areas, the army built giant outhouses, used them for a while, covered them up with lye and dirt, and then moved on. It was not until you reached Barga, months later, that you saw your first Italian toilet: no seat, just a hole in the concrete floor and two places for your feet. Those dug by the A&P Platoon were not much worse. Urinals in Florence were placed in the outside walls of many buildings. Women’s toilets were usually in the middle of a road or street, screened off on either side. Toilets were one manifestation of a different culture.