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Worms and Cellulitis

Heroes Remember

Worms and Cellulitis

Of course then other things started, boils and worms, and we used to bunk two together to be warmer. You could double the blankets and it was the only way we could keep warm in the middle of the winter and the guy I was sharing with, he was coughing like mad one night and he finally got up and he ran out and he came back he told me, he says, “You know, I coughed up a worm as big around as my finger.” And there was quite a few of the fellas that had these worms. I know I had a couple of boils and they were dandies and you’d go into the doctor we had and he’d just dig down into it with a knife and then squeeze them out and he had something that was yellow, I forget the name of it, some yellow stuff that he gave me, he poured a little of that on and he’d make a wick out of a piece of rag and stuffed down into the hole and then he’d leave it like that for a few days then he’d pull it out and put another until it gradually grew back out normal. Then I thought I was getting another boil on the side of my knee but there was no swelling in there just a black spot but it was really sore and the only hot water we could get was the doctor had to try and bring these boils to a head and so I went in to see if I could get that and I was sitting there soaking it and he came around to see me and he looked at it and he says, “You’re coming in to the hospital.” So I went in there that night and the next morning he brought four of the fellas with him and each took a hand and a leg and held me while he cut it open and they had no painkillers there and evidently I had what they call cellulitis of the knee and it’s just an infection and can be pretty serious I guess. But I never saw anything run so much as that did it just soaked up rags galore. And a day or two later the doctor got the measles so they had an American doctor there so he came and looked at it and the first thing he said is, “Well, I believe if you are gonna work on something you got to have a hole big enough.” So back come the four guys and they cut the hole bigger and they told me that there was pockets of this all around and he had to break the flesh open to let them drain so he had this rod that he put in and they broke all that away so it was a while before that sort of healed up and just about the time that healed up another one came up above my knee so we went through the same routine again.

Mr. Gerrard discusses how some of the men would cough up worms, "As big around as your finger.” He then describes his personal battle with cellulitis and the crude, painful method of treating the skin infection. He is held down by four men while the doctor cuts open the tissue of his knee to drain it.

Horace Gerrard

Although born in England on January 19, 1922, Mr. Gerrard's family emigrated to Red Deer, Alberta where his father died when he was six years old. Once he was old enough, he hunted game to help feed his family as well as cutting wood for heat. Mr. Gerrard left school after grade nine, working at odd jobs. He joined the 78th Field Battery as a reserve when he was sixteen. He later joined the permanent force in 1939 with the 5th Heavy Battery. Eventually Mr. Gerrard joined the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, with whom he served in Hong Kong. He worked with both British and Canadian battalions during the Battle of Hong Kong, before being taken prisoner by the Japanese.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Horace Gerrard
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Hong Kong
Royal Canadian Signals Corps

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