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Double wooden latrine seat, United Kingdom, 1914-1918

Latrines are long communal ditches used as a toilet by soldiers. This double latrine seat would have been placed across the ditch, resting on each side. When the covers were placed upright they formed backrests. The seat could be used by two people at a time and was issued to the British Army during the First World War. It is important to keep toilet areas away from living quarters. Otherwise there is a danger that water supplies could become contaminated with faeces. In the past, potentially fatal diseases such as cholera spread quickly among troops who had not followed this public health measure.

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Glossary: latrine seat

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Glossary: cholera

A severe infection of the small intestine commonly contracted through eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, leading to dehydration, which can be fatal.