Moral Behaviour

By kind permission of John King, Author

Nothing hitherto in the Church magazines had suggested that the presence of so many soldiers was causing any kind of moral problem for Grove Park and Lee, but in the St Mildred’s magazine in January 1916 the vicar announced that a meeting would be held at St Mary’s Vicarage in Lewisham on 7 January which he hoped ladies from the parish would attend. “The silly behaviour of young girls in the streets makes the question of women patrols for this neighbourhood an urgent one”, he observed. The vicar said that he had asked for a patrol, but he was also asking parents to exercise more control over their children. “No young girls”, he concluded, “should be allowed to roam about the darkened roads at all hours of the evening”. It is interesting that his outburst coincided with a recurring concern about the conduct of women and girls in the neighbourhood of Army camps. There had in fact been patrols of the National Union of Women Workers in the region of some camps since 1914 which were officially recognised by the Home Office. The result of the meeting was not reported in the magazine, but a later report suggests that patrols were started in the area.

Indirectly related to the problem was that the claims of the army were causing a shortage of Special Constables. This was reflected in the July St Mildred’s magazine which reported that more men above military age were urgently needed and that applications should be made to Inspector Thomas at Lee Green Police Station; it was emphasised that hours of duty were much lighter than they used to be.

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