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Beri-beri symptoms

Heroes Remember

There was always something, then there was those electric feet. Which... the most painful thing I ever heard of. Their feet swelled up, and your... everything swelled up more or less and you get up in the morning... and you get up and it runs down to your feet and legs would swell up. When you lay down at night, it was just red all over. But we got some thiamine shots when we had beri-beri. I was getting these shots, and nothing would happen and then one night I had to go to the bathroom which was a funnel out of the ground they had dug with stones and all of a sudden I started to go and I went thirteen times in the next hour. They had guys that had lost ten, twenty pounds in a day like, once it started to work. Some committed suicide, but not very many. There was always a chance that we might get out some day. That kinda helped a little.

Mr. Whitman describes the debilitating symptoms of beri-beri, and taking shots of thiamine as an antidote. The side effects of the injections are almost as uncomfortable.

Allan Whitman

Allan Whitman was born in Bridgeville, Manitoba on February 21, 1921. His father ran a general store in which he also worked. Feeling it was his duty, Mr. Whitman enlisted with the Winnipeg Grenadiers in September, 1939 and trained at Minto and Tuxedo Barracks. In Hong Kong, he fought in D Company until his capture. Mr. Whitman became ill with dysentery, and later beri-beri, the debilitating effects of which kept him in hospital in Hong Kong until the war ended.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Allan Whitman
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Winnipeg Grenadiers

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