Love, Sex & War

Love, Sex and War. Changing Values 1939-45

In the process of researching the backdrop to publishing the important memoirs of a family member that served in WW2, CM stumbled over some fascinating data with respect to infidelity/adultery during wartime, one of the topics that surfaced in his letters. Suffice to say reading John Costello’s ‘Love, Sex & War‘ there are some eye-opening statistics to come from the book. One wonders whether these toxic men, supposedly laying their lives down to protect the women at home, possibly fathomed this into the equation when they enlisted.

Costello notes,

There were the notorious ‘war-brides’ called ‘Allotment Annies’ who hustled departing soldiers into marriage to collect the twenty dollars a month the US Government automatically allotted to servicemen’s wives. With a private’s pay rising to fifty dollars a month for overseas service, some greedy ‘Annies’ took on four, five, and even six husbands. These unscrupulous women made bigamy a business, and in return for V-mail letters to GIs overseas they lived very well off the pale blue-green Government cheques. Some, with the financial acumen of actuaries, specialized in airmen, anticipating that their higher mortality rates would increase their chances of collecting the ten thousand dollar jackpot Government insurance cheque issued if their husband was killed in action.

Elvira Taylor achieved national notoriety as the ‘Allotment Annie’ who operated out of Norfolk Virginia and specialized in sailors. She managed to snare six live ones and was about to hook a seventh when she was arrested as a result of two of her ‘husbands’ starting a fight in an English pub when they showed each other her picture as their ‘wife.’ When they had been cooled off by the military police, they joined forces to expose the duplicitous Elvira, who was discovered by checking the navy pay records to have contracted four other bigamous marriages.

When it came to divorce, Costello went on to write,

One out of every three American servicemen were married by the end of the war. There was a doubling of petitions for divorce by 1945 when, for every hundred couples getting married, thirty-one were legally separated…The wartime divorce phenomenon afflicted British servicemen to the same increasing degree. The number of adultery petitions filed after 1942 rose by a hundred per cent each year above the 1939-42 average. The final twelve months of the war also saw a spectacular eightfold jump in the number of husbands who were suing for divorce on the grounds of adultery. By 1945, two out of every three petitions were being filed by men, whereas until 1940 female petitions had been in the majority.

So much for the patriarchy we hear about incessantly. To think of those brave souls that laid down their lives for those who were only interested in their deaths.

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