The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - Appendices. 'Detailed Report on the Naga Hills Expedition of 1878-80', Capt. P.J. Maitland

caption: medical notes
caption: diet of the troops
medium: reports
person: O'Brien/ Dr.
person: Maitland/ Capt. P.J.
date: 1880
person: India Office Library, London
refnum: IOR L/MIL/17/18/24
text: Diet of the troops.- For the first month the troops were in the field, vegetables were tolerably plentiful, but after that the men were entirely dependent on the commissariat ration ( given on page 8). The free ration, says Dr. O' Brien, was ample in quantity, but deficient in antiscorbutic elements. " The natural and inevitable consequence was a general state of ill health. Towards the end nearly 50 per cent. began to show signs of scurvy." ( Annual Report of the 44th Native Infantry.)
text: Surgeon-General De Renzy anticipated a large amount of sickness unless great precautions were taken. He recommended, in addition to the free use of lime-juice, a daily ration of milk, and advised the issue of the condiments given as a portion of the Duffla ration, as it would be quite impossible for the men to provide themselves with the ingredients of a healthy diet. He also added that preserved soups, milk, and vegetables, also Danish or Norwegian butter, were valuable as preventives of scurvy, and should be made available for officers at cost price. (No.749, dated 27th October, and No.746, dated 25th October 1879, addressed to Secretary to the Surgeon-General, Calcutta.)
text: The Surgeon-General supported Dr. De Renzy's recommendations.
text: Milk and tea, however, were only sanctioned as hospital comforts.
text: Lime-juice was freely sanctioned, but never came to the front in sufficient quantities to allow of a general issue being made. Dr. O'Brien, however, expresses his " unhesitating opinion that lime-juice is not a remedy for the combined conditions of scurvy and anaemia produced by severe bodily exertion, and improper diet in a malarious climate. Neither lime-juice, nor the tamarinds also sent up, can form red blood-corpuscules, or be a substitute for a regular supply of fresh meat and vegetables, especially at a time when men are required to be in their fullest vigour." ( Annual Report of the 44th Native Infantry.)
text: The contrast between the fresh, sleek look of the 18th Native Infantry, when they arrived in March, and the dry, sallow, pallid faces of the men of the 43rd and 44th Native Infantry (15) who had been living on plain unvaried commissariat rations for several months, was most striking. It furnished to Dr. O'Brien's mind a crucial test of the insufficiency of the ration.
text: The result of a long residence in the Naga Hills is well illustrated by the present condition of the frontier police of that district. Dr. O'Brien examined a number at Kohima, and found 75 per cent. suffering from well marked scurvy. The loss in this force in 1879, independent of those killed in the performance of their duties, amounted to 25 per cent. of the whole, including those discharged as medically unfit for further service. ( Annual Report of the 44th Native Infantry.)