US complained in WW II that London’s prostitutes corrupted American soldiers

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The US Army complained to the British Government in the Second World War regarding the dangers posed to their GIs by London’s prostitutes. Scotland Yard files covering the period from 1942-43 just released by The National Archives in Kew reveal concerns on both sides of the Atlantic over the levels of venereal disease contracted by American soldiers.

Girls named the ‘Piccadilly Commandos’ who frequented clubs such as Woolly Lamb and the Clipper Club and plied their trade around Leicester Square provoked complaints from the American hierarchy in 1942. Admiral Sir Edward Evans, of the Civil Defence Service, passed these sentiments on to the Metropolitan Police and wrote: ‘Of course the American soldiers are encouraged by these young sluts, many of whom should be serving in the forces. At night the Square, with its garden, is apparently given over to vicious debauchery.’ Police authorities considered the reports were extravagant and the soldiers being drunk exacerbated the problems in London’s West End. However, by 1943, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden was concerned about the issue and a conference was organised with the Americans but the issue lost impetus when it was referred to another committee.

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