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Inventive Genius Allows N.Z. Airmen Joy Of Hot Bath

R.N.Z.A.F. Official News Service BOUGAINVILLE, Aug. 2. IN the primitive islands of the South A Seas cold showers are the order whatever the weather, but a hot bath is a luxury about which the serviceman sometimes dreams—usually on a grey, depressing evening after the rains. At Camp Waitemata, oldest-established camp of the R.N.Z.A.F. on Bougainville, however, it is no longer a dream, but an accomplished fact. The brain-child of four Kiwi airmen, three of whom live at Grey Lynn, the "Waitemata Hot-Point" is a popular institution. Standing against the jungle at the rear of the living quarters, it is a small bathhouse complete with roof, flooring and walls of mosquito-proof netting. The bath is installed along one side and "all modern conveniences" include hot and cold running water and electric light. There is a cold shower above the bath, and an attendant is "on duty" to fill and empty the bath and to regulate the temperature of the water. The men responsible for this innovation are four aircrafthands who share a tent in the camp. They are R. H. ("Herb") Stevens, T. T. ("Tock") Miller and F. G. ("Fred") Ward, all of Auckland, whose homes in Grey Lynn are within a few hundred yards of one another: and J. Nicholls, who comes from Nelson." On a wet desolate evening a month or so ago they watched from their tent the procession of airmen walking to the showers, getting their ablutions over quickly, and splashing back through the mud and rain to their quarters. It was then they conceived the idea. "Cactus Stove" for Heat Two galvanised 44-gallon fuel drums were split in two and joined together to form a bath. A plentiful supply of cold water was laid on, a disused boiler was connected, and a larger version of the well known "cactus stove" was installed beneath. Pipes were run from the boiler and from the water supply. Taps were fitted, and the bath-house was complete.

Almost any evening you may see an airman taking his bath at leisure. If he has a rapt expression, he's probably experiencing the luxury for the first time in the tropics, and it's a safe bet that the far-away look in his eye means he's recalling the last time ... at home.

The luxury is indulged moderately, on an average once a week. On hot days and nights—and they are in the majority—the refreshing cold douche of the showers is preferred. But after a fatiguing day, or perhaps following a football game in the mud and rain, officers and men appreciate an opportunity to relax at the "Waitemata Hot-Point." A whole football team presents no problems for the owners; their system will provide 16 gallons of hot water every eight minutes. The bath has its curative value too. Prickly heat, one of the commonest ailments of the tropics, has been found to vanish entirely after a few immersions iri hot water. Meantime, business is rapidly expanding at the bath-house. It was suggested that if a queue should form,, a waiting room will become necessary. The owners consider it will be better to build a second bathhouse and they are already planning an extension of their enterprise.

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Bibliographic details

Inventive Genius Allows N.Z. Airmen Joy Of Hot Bath, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 186, 8 August 1945

Word Count

Inventive Genius Allows N.Z. Airmen Joy Of Hot Bath Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 186, 8 August 1945

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