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Organised Vice

Organised Vice

One important subject received close attention from the chaplains in Tripoli. This was the problem of prostitution, the dangers of which every army has to face. It is the duty of the medical authorities to do their best to protect the soldier from venereal diseases, though on several occasions in the early months of the war the chaplains had objected to the tone used by some doctors while lecturing on this subject. Tripoli had been the Axis base in North Africa and it was said that the disease rate in the town was very high. In a talk with Padre Buck, General Freyberg said that he wanted the chaplains to give this subject special attention. The chaplains appreciated the spirit of this request from the GOC, knowing that he was as deeply concerned about the spiritual dangers as those of health.

For many reasons it was considered undesirable to handle this subject in sermons on Church parades, and it was felt that a clear-cut statement of the fundamentals of the Christian faith, not ethical lectures, was the best answer to moral problems. This meant that the chaplains would have to be given some time on the normal daily syllabus, and, after much consideration, a series of weekly lectures was planned and arrangements made to cover every Army unit, with the Roman Catholics speaking to their own men. But alas for well-laid plans. No sooner had the first lecture been given than the Division was once again on the move. However, the chaplains had achieved something, for the Divisional authorities had unconsciously approved the system of ‘Padres' Hours’