I’m delighted to welcome Terri here today to talk about something which most soldiers wouldn’t have told their mums about.
Brothels are always interesting to me. Brothels in wartime, especially so. Even the American nickname for a prostitute, ‘hooker’, comes from the Civil War General, Fightin’ Joe Hooker. He was so fond of his camp follower, the prostitutes were knows as “Hooker’s Army.”
World War One was no different. Brothels were legalized at the front. They’d long been used by the French Army and the English Army tended to adopt the customs of the land they were in. Women in these houses were had regular medical examinations and were overseen by a Madam. By 1917 there were 137 of these establishments across 37 towns. And did they do a brisk business? The British conducted a study on one street in Le Havre. They recorded over 171,000 visitors in 1915 alone.
Since England was still working under a class system, there were two tiers of brothels: red and blue. Women serving the enlisted men would advertise with a red light and officer’s houses featured a blue one. The conditions within the brothels differed accordingly. Prostitutes for enlisted men serviced their clients in their bedrooms, which was usually held a dirty cot and a thin wool blanket. Officer’s prostitutes serviced their clients in more refined surroundings – linen sheets and a full bar.
The distinction between officer and enlisted men even carried across enemy lines. When Allied forces overtook a village, British officers would ‘take over’ the prostitutes used by the enemy. They found it more palatable to have sex with someone who had been sleeping with the enemy, then to share a woman with a countryman of lower rank!
Angel of the Somme
There’s a fine line between courage and insanity … and he hurls himself over it.
Captain Sam Dwight never thought his pre-war vow to “make a difference for good in the world” would come back to haunt him. After suffering a grievous head wound in battle, he awakens in a field hospital, barely able to utter a word.
How fast would his beautiful, determined nurse call for a straitjacket if she knew that every time a bright light flickers in his eyes, he is transported back to the trenches, reaching out to heal a wounded soldier in a flash of dazzling light?
Lily Curtis has seen many a soldier racked with guilt, but she’s never seen one will himself to induce life-threatening seizures. She fears that next time, her hands won’t be quick enough to save her handsome, apparently suicidal charge.
As rumors of an ethereal battlefield specter reach the ward, Sam becomes convinced that his front line mercy missions are real. But with each trip, he spins the roulette wheel with his own life while Lily’s love and the lives of those at the hospital hang in the balance.