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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Maadi Swimming Bath

Maadi Swimming Bath

The construction of a large swimming bath on the outskirts of the town of Maadi beyond the confines of the camp was commenced before the troops arrived. The bath was considered desirable both as page 44 a health measure and as an attraction to keep the men out of Cairo, with its temptations and infectious diseases. The bath was excavated and lined with concrete and the water obtained from the town supply. It was opened for use on 7 April 1940, and it proved of great value and was very popular throughout the whole period of the war.

A high incidence of infection of the nasal sinuses and of the ears was present in the force during the North African campaign, and the swimming bath was held responsible for many of the cases. Tests showed that, although the water in the bath was changed daily, there was a high bacterial count in samples taken towards the evening. The bath water was therefore chlorinated from 8 June 1940. Regulations were also promulgated forbidding diving, ducking, and underwater swimming; these proved very difficult to enforce. All men suffering from any of the following diseases were forbidden to bathe in any swimming bath, civil or military: (1) Diseases of the skin or scalp; (2) venereal diseases in an infective stage; (3) infectious diseases of the ear, or with evidence of previous ear disease; (4) convalescents from enteric or dysentery until certified free from infection; and (5) nasal infections. Men with infections of the ear were also debarred from swimming in the sea.

Efforts were made at different periods to ensure that all troops were taught swimming. There can be no doubt that the bath contributed much to the health and happiness of the men.