Category Archives: Whores

Annie Spiezer #FWW #WWI #WW1 #Folkestone.

Some of this blog I have posted before. Time has also been spent on working out how to write about Annie. Annie has been hinted at in two previous blogs.  One of London’s spoiled doves and  Annie was one of many, Their stories are seldom told. There are a part of the history of war, just as Annie is a part of Lewis Gedalovitch’s story.

Private 557540 Lewis Gedalovitch

Labour Corps

Lewis Gedalovitch a Russian subject and a Registered Alien. A barber by trade, married Annie Spiezer in the last quarter of December 1915, although his service record gives the date of the marriage as 25th May 1916.

He is brought under escort to enlist on the 21st September 1917, and is called up to serve on the 13th June 1918. Ten days later he is posted to the 8th Labour Battalion. Then, on the 15th July to 102nd Labour Company at Sevenoaks. Posted overseas he embarks from Folkestone on the 4th August 1918 arriving in Boulogne on the same day. Like the wives of all married soldiers Annie is granted a Separation Allowance. This allowance is stopped in August. Form F.S.A. 6 from the Ministry of Pensions dated August 1918, divulges the reason as follows

Sir, I am directed by the Special Grants Committee to inform you that, no further issue of Separation Allowance will be made to Mrs Annie Gedalovitch 12 Saville Street, Tottenham Court Road, the wife of No. 557540 Pte Lewis Gedalovitch, Labour Corps, on account of her conviction on August 15th of being a common prostitute.”

There is a follow up letter in Gedalovitch’s records from the Ministry of pensions dated October 1918. The following is taken from this letter,

…the stoppage of the Separation Allowance was authorised on evidence which satisfied the Special Grants Committee the the woman is unworthy…”

He is granted two weeks leave back to the UK on the 5th October. Before he could return Gedalovitch is admitted to Endell Military Hospital. His leave is extended to the 25th October. Gedalovitch again spends time in hospital. This time from 21st December, rejoining his company on the 11th January 1919. In March he is again sent to Hospital. Posted to the clearing Office on the 23th March 1919. he returns to the UK the following day. The 20th April sees him posted to the 9th Russian Labour Battalion. Gedalovitch was punished by being confined to barracks for three days the first time On the 24th April, the second on the 22nd May. Both times for brief periods of absence. Gedalovitch was punished by being confined to barracks for three days the first time On the 24th April, the second on the 22nd May. Both times for brief periods of absence. While operating a bread cutting machine he cuts off the tip of his left thumb and is admitted to hospital for 24 days on the 30th June 1919.1 He is discharged from A company 9th Russian Labour Battalion on the 1st November 1919 being no longer physically fit for war service.2

He is awarded the British War Medal, The Victory Medal, and the Silver War Badge. 3

1920 Lewis Gedalovitch petitioned for divorce.4

1 Lewis Gedalovitch Pension Record.

2Lewis Gedalovitch Service Record additional details from Pension Record.

3 Medal Card

4 National archives web site.

Virgin Soldiers. #FWW #WW1

Lots, volumes, has been written about the needs of the British army and her soldiers going to war. unsung heroes who worked in unglamourous jobs. Heroines who worked long hours in factories, mills, buses, trains, hospitals. all will and are being commemorated. It was, after all, a very new experience.

“…In this new experience you may find temptations both in wine and women.

You must entirely resist both temptations, and, while treating all women with perfect courtesy, you should avoid any intimacy.”

The above is a quote from Kitchener’s letter to each of his soldiers going off to war.

A bit idealistic, and very naive. Most men in Kitchener’s army we happy to fight and die for King, Country, and Empire. They just wanted to get laid first.  At home the young soldier went to a prostitute, overseas a brothel.

Brothels were part of French life and soon they were yet more of them. Red Lights for soldiers, Blue Lights for officers.  Money was being spent on loose women and wine. The rest of a soldier’s pay packet, very often, was just wasted.  Some women made fortunes, others died penniless.

The wives back home were given a separation allowance and expected to just get on with things.

There is a disconnect here that is not talked about. Prostitutes are not a separate life form. They are people. times were difficult. Then as now some people have very little option, some liked the money, others just enjoyed the work.  They came from all sorts of backgrounds. Some were wives, their names have vanished from history.  Although I do know of one.

Her name is Annie.1) Annie worked Saville Road/Tottenham Court Road area of London. No idea of how successful she was. I like to think Annie was happy. Prostitutes are looked down upon. Regarded as “Tarts” We forget that the word very likely originated as an abbreviation of the word sweetheart.  I’m also sure Annie did not remember the names, if she ever knew them, of her clients.  I bet though, the soldiers she serviced were now a lot less unhappy about going to war. Her country needed soldiers. Her country’s soldiers needed her, and ladies like her. Unnamed heroines, so here is to you Annie, and others like you.

1)I’m keeping mum about her surname. it will be revealed in my book, “Poppies To Oblivion” When I can raise the funds to publish it. (Need an editor too.)