'Never have so many been bathed by so few!' The Hartlepool Corporal who made sure Normandy troops got a bath

Frontline fighting may have been dirty work in the Second World War.

Thursday, 6th June 2019, 14:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th June 2019, 17:44 pm
The 1944 story about the actions of Cpl Love

But at least the 3rd British Infantry Division were spotlessly clean as they did it – thanks to a Hartlepool man.

And that’s because Corporal R.Love was part of a team which concocted a makeshift shower so that every member of the division could get a proper wash.

And by ‘D-Day plus 17’, every one of the soldiers had benefited from a good wash thanks to the man from the County Health Department of Durham.

Cpl Love’s splendid efforts have been unveiled in 1944 archives which have been shared with the Memory Lane by researchers at the Central Library in York Road, Hartlepool.

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They found a news article with the heading ‘Beachhead showers’ 

It said that by the evening of June 23, 1944, every soldier had had a bath.

It all unfolded when the Royal Army Medical Corps had decided it should help out before the arrival of the official bath from the Mobile Army Bath Unit.

German mortar bombs were falling nearby when Cpl Love and his colleagues went into action to set up four showers.

It was actually a staff sergeant who shared the story with the Press and he said, back in 1944, ‘I think I can truly say that never have so many been bathed by so few!”

Only 18 men were available to build the makeshift showers but they had the first one up two days after D-Day.

Sacks, poles and any old odd piece of equipment was used but it made a huge difference to the men – especially their morale, said the 1944 story.

Staff Sgt CD Cox, who was one of the shower constructors, said at the time: “When  a man has been on the front line for a few days, he appreciates a bath.

“And when he comes away from the shower, he is as merry as a lark. It is just that extra little uplift in morale.”

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