Thursday, 17 September 2009

The Scraper's Diary, Oldenburg, Saturday, March 22nd 1947

In the Naafi Club Writing Room.

Light cigarette to try and collect thoughts.
Read Punch to regain composure.

Where has composure gone? Don't know.

This is a lovely old town, with a beautiful Gothic Church and a flourishing Black Market.

The girls by day look pure and lovely, and a credit to their country. The VD rate here is 87% of those tested. Syphilis amounts to 82% of these.

I have seen a lot of little handcarts around. When parked, the shaft, vertical, looks like a miniature cross (the girls by day), but in use, is obviously merely a handle, an implement (the girls by night).

We drove over very bad, bumpy roads today; most roads are escorted by regiments of trees, plane, poplar, birch or coniferous. Saw bullock carts for the first time today.

They gave us supper of egg and chips followed by ice cream in the Officers' Mess last night, followed by beer, tea, whisky, Brandy, gin, rum, Apricot Brandy and Benedictine. I drank the last two only and a cup of tea and felt fine.



Eighty-seven per cent.

I've walked down Piccadilly at night while the Yanks were there, but this is worse. I walked back from the Naafi tonight. It was raining, but that doesn't seem to matter. They stand in shop doorways in dark side streets, talking, but not understanding words, only inflections, keeping one eye cocked for the police.

Many of the girls have pretty faces and good figures, but many more wear flashy clothes and are overly made-up. At night all are there on business. Eighty-seven per cent of them, and most of the rest suspect cases.

There's a poster in the cookhouse, with a picture of a girl and the words :

Don't get V.D.
For Her Sake.

It's a bad situation.


  1. Friko - that is so interesting! This poor, lonely warrior trying so desperately trying to talk himself out of succombing to temptation. You have a very interesting task ahead of you - editing this journal. I would find it quite exciting!

  2. Fascinating look into a time and a place we can't really understand. So much fact is written about the big historical events and so little is remembered about the immediate, social situation. I'm sure that the 87% was well known in that time and place but quickly wiped from the memory banks as soon as life began to return to normal.

  3. I was 22 years old when this was written and VD was so prevalent that you had to get a blood test to work in a restaurant or to get married. Getting married made sense, but who ever heard of Syphilis being transmitted by eating a hamburger?

  4. What a privlege and joy to read this authentic post. Oh how we long for contact (and survival) particularly in the face of war when young.....
    Thank you, you share gems, Friko


    Comfort Spiral

  5. friko - reading this i held my breath felt my tummy tighten and i'm a man born after this time had passed but i know people who were there and how they were messed up in their idea of appropriation / protection of the post war state. i really appreciate the opening up of my mind's eyes through your journals. steven

  6. There is something very poignant in this extract.

  7. I love these snippets of the Scraper's Diary. Even in those days VDs were scary. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  8. Loved it! Thanks for sharing. Scraper could certainly paint his pictures with words.

  9. Friko

    These snap-shots are so valuable. They just really demonstrate the importance of recording the moment.

  10. Bonnie - I do too. It is quite a coincidence that I should have this journal.

    Pondside - More than likely. It's true there are few eye-witness accounts.

    Darlene - thank you, that is very funny. I laughed out loud when I read your comment.

    Cloudia - that is very kind of you and the sentiments are so true.

    steven - thank you steven, I'm glad you appreciate the journal.

    Un Peu Loufoque - thank you, yes, I think so too.

    A Cuban in London - Greetings, Cuban, What you say is true.

    Alan G. - Yes, scraper's tale has something.

    Martin H. - Perhaps we bloggers are now doing this?

  11. Scraper was a writer, wasn't he? The VD statistics are shocking, but those girls didn't get it from each other, did they?

  12. 20th C Woman - scraper was a professional musician, a writer only by inclination.

  13. Hello Friko, My name is Shelia Poole and I reside in the city of Wichita Falls, Texas. I am a blog friend of Margaret PANpipes. She said you might could help me. I found an old post card in an old book store. Could you translate it for me just for my curiousity. It could mean nothing or it may be a long lost love note. I hope for the latter. I would appreciate it very much. I am a newbie to blogging but want to learn.


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