Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hot and Heavy Mandate Days

And then there's just sex


"One day I was told, 'Get your half track ready, you're going out with the Lieutenant'. Wasn't a lone vehicle against the rules? We drove quite a long way and eventually into the orange groves until we reached a clearing. In this clearing was a large old house. Our Lieutenant walked across and into the house. He came out with a dark haired maiden. They entered the orange groves. After a while they came out and he escorted her back to the house. He then rejoined us and said, with a smile on his face, 'Now I'll get you out of these orange groves'." Alan Booth, 13th Anti-Tank Regt, Gunners in Palestine, November 2002.

In spite of the possible risks casual affairs were not uncommon. Charlie Powell lived and worked in a fire station in Haifa but was working far longer hours than he should (literally having to sleep in the office on duty for days) because his sergeant was conducting an affair with a comely Jewish woman across the road. Duty evidently didn't always come first.

The only chance most of the men had to meet women was in the brothels of Haifa, Cairo, Alexandria or elsewhere and there was much talk and boasting of exploits which were unlikely to be more than fantasy. Brothels were accepted as a fact of life though there would be occasional forays by RMPs into red light districts looking for deserters. The majority of men and women were young and inexperienced and the army's horribly graphic films did much to put the fear of God into them about venereal disease. It was not a crime to get it but was a crime not to report it and the treatment could be most unpleasant. There were regular inspections in an effort to control it but how successful they were is debatable and young people delude themselves into thinking they are immortal and immune to the diseases that others get.


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