TV Tropes Needs Your Help
View Kickstarter Project
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here
and discuss here
In most wars, you have a bunch of men far from home, daily scared for their lives. Along with the men came the campfollowers, a group of women and men who were wives, mistresses, merchants, and others who serviced and supplied the combatants. In later wars these were often the wartime prostitute, someone to provide soldiers, sailors, etc., with female companionship. However, up through the mid-19th century female campfollowers were wives and women of every socioeconomic class accompanying the army and creating a military community. They nursed, sewed, washed, acted as merchants.
Not to be confused with a follower who is camp
open/close all folders
- Inverted in both Welcome To The Brothel and Relax by Kalash93. Inverted because the soldiers take leave to visit the prostitutes, who work in establishments far away from the front lines.
- Not quite the same thing, but some Playboy playmates turn up to entertain the troops in Apocalypse Now. Based on an actual visit.
- Gets a bit closer to the trope in the Redux version; the playmates' transport breaks down and the characters in the main party offer to fix it... in exchange for some private time with the playmates.
- Charlie didn't get much USO. He was dug in too deep or moving too fast. His idea of great R&R was cold rice and a little rat meat.
- American Gangster.
- Cheryl Ladd's character (Deborah Solomon) in Purple Hearts wasn't a prostitute, but a Navy nurse. She provided the romantic interest and motivation to Ken Wahl's character Don Jardian, which led him to volunteering for some dangerous missions just so he could see her.
- In Mediterraneo, a troop of Italian soldiers is sent to a Greek island during World War II. While most of the locals are hiding, a prostitute (played by Vana Barba) stays to offer her services. She will later marry one of the soldiers.
- At the beginning of Sharpe's Rifles, a bunch of drunken redcoats are seen sleeping with some local women who have turned to prostitution. Later in the book, Sharpe has an argument with the Spanish officer he's teamed up with while fondling a prostitute. He doesn't sleep with her.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Tyrion Lannister enlists the services of one such camp follower called Shae, and later smuggles her into the city to be his concubine.
- Camp followers or washerwomen (most of whom do very little washing) are often mentioned in ASOIAF, they can be seen following the Freys, the Boltons and the Lannisters (and, presumably, every other army).
- In Terry Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment, the soldiers visit a camp brothel in order to steal women's clothes for the purposes of an Operation Washerwomen. Ironically, the soldiers are all Sweet Polly Olivers anyway, but left most of their clothes at home.
- They also get advised that if they don't visit the "Soiled Doves", people might get suspicious. Sgt Jackrum always brought a book to read.
- Nately has a favorite hooker in Catch-22 with whom he has fallen in love. She is referred to as "Nately's Whore" throughout.
- The ironically-named Chastity eventually becomes one of these in Vile Bodies.
- James Jones' From Here to Eternity has Alma, Prewitt's love interest.
- The short story "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" by Tim O'Brien deals with a Vietnam soldier bringing his girlfriend to 'Nam.
- Gone with the Wind includes a description of the prostitutes that have come pouring into Atlanta with the army, including a wry observation by the town's #1 Bad Woman that she was turned away from volunteering at the hospital because they "didn't want [her] kind of nursing".
- Mollie Bean in The Guns of the South combines this with Sweet Polly Oliver. Note she's based on a real person.
- Gretchen Richter, one of the major characters in the 1632 series is a former camp follower who was rescued and promptly married by one of the time-displaced Americans. Also she's Badass.
- A brothel owned by one of these shows up in the third Codex Alera book, Captain's Fury. Tavi tends to use it just for the bath (Due to his immediate superior placing him on indefinite latrine duty for thwarting his embezzlement scheme, Tavi was seriously in need of a bath regularly). After most of the command structure of his Legion's blown up by Canim sorcery, he hires the madam, who's shown to be a keen businesswoman and good with people, as his Tribune Logistica - basically, supply officer.
- Because of how crafting works, the prostitutes themselves are relatively strong earthcrafters (because you can inspire lust with earthcraft ... we don't know either but that's how it works). When Tavi needs to build large defensive emplacements, he drafts the prostitutes.
- In the Sword of Truth, camp followers of all kinds are portrayed as very bad people. The D'Harans target the Imperial Order camp whenever they can, not having any qualms about having denying the Imperial Order any service they can, whether it's that kind of service, or blacksmithing or cleaning or anything else that could give the Imperial Order any advantage.
- The Aubrey-Maturin series is rife with whores. Stephen blames this on the land rather than the sailors.
- In the Belisarius Series, after Belisarius recaptures a Persian city his army is crowded with Persian civilians clinging to the Romans for protection. This is Truth in Television; many camp followers in history were simply seeking protection from the other army or from the opportunistic banditry that always comes when war breaks down law and order.
- Nicholette in Seven Men of Gascony. In some ways she is a subversion as she is not only a wine seller rather then a prostitute but she is almost prudish for the circumstances, being married to every one of the soldiers she serviced(one at a time of course until he was killed). The only irregularity was that her first husband was married in a French Old Soldier ritual rather then legally.
- The regiments of the Sabbat Crusade in Gaunt's Ghosts are shown to be accompanied on their travels by various wives, lovers, children and assorted men and women of both business and pleasure. They're even assigned their own decks on the leviathan troop transports.
- The Reynard Cycle : Nobel's army in The Baron of Maleperduys is accompanied by several stripes of these. Some are the highly respected priestesses of Sphinx, while others are clearly sex slaves. The majority of them appear to be run of the mill prostitutes.
Live Action TV
- Marg Helgenberger's character on China Beach.
- Band of Brothers: One episode shows the men liberating a Dutch city - where the people are taking the opportunity to shave and humiliate the women who slept with Germans.
- On Generation Kill, the Marines are approached by two Iraqi gay male prostitutes.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: During the Cardassian occupation of Bajor, Bajoran women were taken to be used as comfort women for Cardassian soldiers.
- What with M*A*S*H being a show about how a military unit deals with war, these tend to show up fairly frequently.
- The song "1917" by David Onley describes a French Hooker with a Heart of Gold consoling shell-shocked young soldiers:
He speaks to me in schoolboy French
Of a soldiers life inside a trench
Of the look of death and the ghastly stench
I do my best to please him
- Elton John's song "Sweet Painted Lady" depicts sailors "getting paid for being laid" on sailor's leave, never to even care or think of their conquests once they go back to the sea.
- Throughout history, "camp followers" would follow armies to sell goods and provide services to the soldiers, which included prostitution.
- Occurred a lot in Vietnam, where it was called "Rest and Recreation" and generally occurred in Bangkok or Hong Kong. Hence the redirect title — Rest And Procreation.
- An Urban Legend claims that the term "hooker" for "prostitute" comes from the "soiled doves" that would follow Union General Joseph Hooker's division during the Civil War. Evidence dates the word to earlier, but Hooker's apparent fondness for hookers may have popularized it.
- Before the king trusted her, French and English soldiers initially thought Joan Of Arc was a prostitute. Why else would she be following the army?
- When British Soldiers were Cloistered in Boston during the Revolutionary War, they often had relations with the local women (and by the time Americans took back the city, a VERY back-end enhancing dress was quite popular)
- Perhaps the darkest Real Life example would be Japanese "Comfort Women" during World War II. Some were recruited by choice, but many more were tricked into thinking they'd be nurses or cooks. Many were drawn from occupied countries, such as Korea, Okinawa and China, essentially kidnapped to be gangraped by up to 35 soldiers a day. As many as 200,000 women suffered these atrocities. Japanese women who survived were rejected in their own society for being seen as whores and lived difficult, lonely lives. Even today the Japanese government is slow to acknowledge any of this despite pressure from other nations.
- French women who slept with German occupiers were seen as collaborators and had their heads shaved in public. If they didn't take the hint, subsequent sanctions could be more severe.
- The Ancient Greeks being equal-opportunity lovers, there are several instances of armies being delayed on the march because an officer (and in one case, a King of Sparta) had fallen in love with a local boy and refused to leave him behind.
- To prevent this trope, when Clara Barton formed a nursing service during The American Civil War (which eventually became the American Red Cross), she specified that all the women who applied as nurses be "at least 30 and plain-looking."
- In a subversion, most of the shipboard stowaway women in the Royal Navy seem to have been legitimate wives. Love might make a woman endure the life but prostitution did not pay well enough to go to sea just to find jobs, and most prostitutes waited at shore near naval bases.
- Although these women provided sex and then resulting STD's could decimate an army, many commanders tolerated them since the men needed companionship and more importantly many of the prostitutes would assist in providing medical care to the wounded. Yes, medical care. Really.
- In North Africa in WW2, the initial British offensive so massively overwhelmed the Italians that not only 300,000 Italian soldiers ended up prisoners, the best part of 150,000 Italian civilians ended up behind British lines. There were too many to intern, so they were allowed to go about their daily lives, albeit with some restrictions. What seriously embarrassed British military authorities was that these included quite a few brothels, including field bordellos which had been attached to the Italian Army and which, in an even-handed spirit which did not in any way contravene the Geneva Convention, were just as happy to carry on providing a service to British and Commonwealth forces. Moral Guardians back home in Britain, who did not object to British service personnel risking their lives in action, offered strong vocal opposition to their going to brothels for recreation.
- This was not a concern to Field-Marshal Montgomery, who was appalled to realise that at any one time, sexually transmitted diseases were incapacitating 8-10% of British service personnel. This figure peaked when the battles moved to Italy proper. He urged that brothels in the rear area of British forces should be legalised and brought under military jurisdiction, for the pragmatic reason that his men were going to go to them anyway, and the women would then be given full medical supervision. Again, Moral Guardians in Britain were appalled and Churchill came under political pressure to reject the idea. The two British armies in Italy were already attracting erroneous criticism, and were falsely perceived as the D-Day Dodgers, enjoying an extended Mediterranean holiday.
- French forces often had something called a BMC (Bordel militaire de campagne) where they would provide 'comfort' for the soldiers. One BMC was even sent to Dien Bien Phu where the women served as nurses and were re-educated by the Viet-Minh.
- Mistresses and concubines of Red Army officers and generals during WWII were referred to with a mock acronym "PP Zh", which meant "Field and Campaign Wife".