Disease was a fact of life during World War I. Unsanitary conditions, miserable environments, and the best medical technology 1915 had to offer did little to keep disease and infection at bay. Throw in a nasty plague or two and you’ve got a lot of people contracting horrible things above and beyond the standard trauma inflicted by war.
Some men were afraid. Others accepted it with a quiet dignity. And some .. well, some ran out and dove crotch-first into the first dirty scrimmage they could find.
Last week the government sent me another ominous-looking package. Inside was a thick bundle of photocopied paper – my grandfather’s military records from WWI. I had submitted some forms online late last year asking for additional information, then forgot about the request in the throes of real life. Archives Canada came through for me though, and provided me with a wealth of information about a man whom I had no idea existed even two months ago.
Medical records from 1914 are a funny thing. Everything is written out by hand, and a lot of it is barely legible. It gave me a lot to process and think about, but ultimately raised even more questions: where was my grandfather stationed (figured that out; he was in Boulogne France)? How did he get injured? He was shipped back to Canada from England in 1916, but died in Montreal almost a year later – what did he do during that time?
I tried to decipher the photocopies of the almost century-old paper, and found some new information I hadn’t known before:
- My grandmother’s name was Edith, but she went by her middle name Jane
- My grandfather was an electrician before he enlisted (or was drafted – how did that work in WWI, anyway?)
- He had black hair, light brown eyes, and a “moderate dark” complexion
- His handwriting was eerily similar to my dad’s
- He spent a lot of the war in various hospitals
- .. BECAUSE HE CONTRACTED SUPER GONORRHEA THE INSTANT HE SET FOOT IN FRANCE
It wasn’t even that my granddad got gonorrhea – anyone can do that – but that his gonorrhea was so bad, he spent seventy days in the hospital recovering from it.
What kind of Super Mega Ultra Ninja Whore do you have to dally with to get a wicked never-ending case of Super Gonorrhea?
I know this is technically tragic and sad and the waste of a young life, but I can’t help but be doubled over with the delicious inappropriate hilarity of it all: my granddad fought the war with his wiener, and caught Super Gonorrhea for his efforts.
All giggling aside, the timeline is actually kind of depressing:
- Enlisted on 08/13/14
- Declared fit for overseas duty on 08/28/14
- Assigned to the 14th Battalion on 09/21/14
- Spent most of October having sex with diseased women
- Admitted to hospital on 11/13/14; diagnosed with Super Gonorrhea
- Discharged on 01/22/15; more or less recovered from Super Gonorrhea
- Admitted to hospital on 06/04/16 with the wounds that would eventually take his life: “gws spine” (he received gunshot wounds to the back which severed his spine – appears to have been diagnosed with paraplegia, but would have some movement in legs and toes noted throughout the records)
- Wrote out his will on 09/05/16, leaving everything to his wife
- Sent to Liverpool on 09/29/16
- Admitted to another hospital on 09/30/16
- Sent back to Canada 10/05/16
- Officially discharged on 09/10/17 – reason: deceased from GSW; died in Montreal at 10:25am
That part is sad. I don’t like thinking about how he died – I’d much rather imagine him strutting through the streets of France, picking up loose women by the tankful and having an excellent time of it all. After his bout with Super Gonorrhea, you’d think he’d have learned his lesson – not so, if these records are to be believed. He was admitted to the field hospital at least 3 more times suffering from more Gonorrhea (regular kind, not super) before being seriously injured, and eventually shipped back home.
I never knew my grandfather, but his legacy of Super Gonorrhea lives on – not in me, because I am fairly certain I am Gonorrhea-free – but I will raise a glass to his memory and be satisfied that his love of loose women was not lost on his son OR his son’s (second) daughter. I, my father, and my father’s father will continue to whore our way through history wherever we are, all for the honour of the Welsh name.
Whore on, granddad, whore on.