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100 years ago: Our soldiers maligned

26 June 2015

June 25th, 1915

THERE has been much mischievous and unwarrantable talk about an imaginary prospective increase of illegitimacy as a consequence of the war. In all parts of the country where the troops are quartered in camps and billets it has been alleged that innumerable unmarried women are expecting to become mothers. With such assurance were these statements made that the phrase "War-babies" was understood to represent an alarming fact. Some people, however, kept their heads and asked for evidence. When it was not produced, they went in search of it for themselves. The Charity Organisation Society, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and the Committee on Illegitimate Births during the War, of which the Archbishop of York is chairman, have severally conducted a searching inquiry, all three arriving at the same conclusion-namely, that the reports concerning the supposed large number, of "War-babies" are entirely without foundation. . . It is probable, we think, that many of these false rumours were started by well-intentioned people who mistook for immoral behaviour the boisterous manners of a different class from their own. We are, however, able confidently to believe that the character of our soldiers has been maligned; that, in fact, they have on the whole maintained a high ideal in their conduct. Men who are giving their lives for us ought to be immune from such base charges, and we hope that, the lie having now been given to these, people will in future be slow to believe that the British soldier is unworthy to wear the King's uniform.


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