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'A Cause of Military Inefficiency', booklet on STIs, England, 1914-1918

This booklet was issued to British soldiers during the First World War. The quote from Lord Kitchener (1850-1916), the face of military recruitment, sums up the tone of the booklet: “It is…dishonest, that by contracting through self-indulgence a disease which he can avoid, a man should render himself incapable of doing that work for his Country which he enlisted to do.” Kitchener is referring to the sexually transmitted infections – then known as venereal diseases – gonorrhoea and syphilis. The advice given in this booklet was to not engage in sexual activity at all. This was helped by avoiding alcohol and not “read[ing] filthy books or talk[ing] about filthy subjects”.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: booklet

Small book consisting of a few sheets that are glued, stitched or stapled together between thin card or paper covers.

Glossary: syphilis

A sexually transmitted infection resulting in the formation of lesions throughout the body.

Glossary: sexually transmitted infection

Any disease transmitted by sexual intercourse. STIs include HIV/AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhoea, some chlamydia infections and genital herpes.

Glossary: gonorrhoea

A sexually transmitted infection that affects the genital membranes of either sex. Symptoms include a yellowish discharge from the genitals.