In World War I there gold-digging scamming brides were known as “War Marriage Vampires” and in World War II and the Korean War the new generation of these opportunistic ladies were dubbed "Allotment Wives" or “Allotment Annies.” A movie about this racket was even made, with the title "Allotment Wives," released in 1945.
FULL TEXT: Bigamy as a regular industry is one of the menaces that soldiers about to leave for the other side, and men in the army camps scattered all over the United States, have to face. There have been several cases of bigamy in Reading [Pennsylvania] only recently, but cases in which soldiers were the victims have not been recovered here. The object in these plurality of marriages is the soldiers allowances and pensions to wives.
Because soldiers are susceptible and chivalrous the government of the United States is being robbed of thousands of dollars every month by unscrupulous women. Soldiers in Uncle Sam’s uniform who believe they are depriving themselves of part of their small wages to support a newly acquired wife are merely contributing to adventuresses who are deriving the same source of revenue from several soldier husbands. While the soldier is “carrying on” at the front with the picture of his newly acquired bride close over his heart, the bride is “carrying on” at home as the result of receiving as many allotments as her charms may enabled her to assemble soldier husbands.
~ Stamping out Vampires. ~
In an effort to stamp out this new vampire of war times the government of the United States is starting a nationwide search for the culprits and is meeting with considerable success. Every agency of the government is being brought to bear to ferret out the offenders.
The work of ferreting out fraud against the government in this and other respects is in charge of L. Merriwether Smith, of Harrisburg, Ky., formerly a member of the Kentucky State Senate and now associate council for the War Risk Bureau. More than 100 cases already are prepared for trial, and many women are facing prison sentences as a result of their activities. These case are but the beginning of the prosecutions, which are expected to mount into the thousands. The bureau has worked out a unique system by which soldiers’ allotments are checked up.
~ Victims Young Boys. ~
Most of the victims to this form of “vampiring,” it appears, according to the war risk bureau, are young boys from the country to reach the various camps with chivalrous ideas of women. There boys are attracted by the dashing “camp widows,” fall victim to the appearance of style, and end by marrying them and making an allotment of part of their soldier’s pay as required by law. a private is expected, when married, to make an allotment of $15 to his wife, and the government matches this allotment of $15 to his wife, and the government matches this allotment with an allowance of $15 more, so the wife receives $30 and the soldier goes to the war front with a wage of $15 a month. In some cases women who have participated in this form of depriving both soldiers and government have been drawing allotments and allowances from 12 different husbands. Each allowance calls for the assumption of a different name and the check has to be indorsed, subjecting the perpetrator to the charge of forgery and also that of bigamy. In order top obtain these allowances the women run the risk of having the 12 husbands, more or less, meet each other in the trenches “somewhere in France,” where a comparison of notes and of photographs of the wives left behind might cause embarrassing complications.
~ More from the Pacific. ~
The checks sent out by the treasury department are mailed in an envelope which renders the address and allowance number viable from the outside, so the mail carrier, post office employees and others may become aware of the person receiving them. In cases where suspicion is awakened the authorities are notified.
Singularly enough, the Pacific coast produces more of these cases than does the Atlantic. Mr. Smith, who has charge of the investigations, explains this on the ground that the women of the Pacific coast, especially of San Francisco, have had more experience in this form of fraud than the women of the East.
“These cases were especially prevalent during the time when soldiers were being sent to the Philippines,” said Mr. Smith, discussing the cases today.
~ Soldiers Party to Fraud. ~
While the great majority of fraud cases involve women who have deluded trusting young soldiers, there are also many cases of soldiers who themselves been party to fraud. In these instances they have alleged the existence of wives who were not their wives, and have made claims for allowances for children that did not exist. Under the law, an illegitimate child is entitled to allowance for support, and the government has cognizance of cases where soldiers have made claims to the parentage of illegitimate children who did not really exist.
The government has record of one case where a soldier claimed a man was his relative to whom he had contributed money for support. It developed the man was not related to the soldier in any way but explained the transaction by saying the soldier had stolen $50 from him at [the finish of sentence – the article’s last – is illegible].
[“Bigamy an Industry For Fake War Brides – U. S. Uncovers Thousands Of Cases Of Girls Marrying For Allowance and Insurance,” The Reading Eagle (Pa.), Nov. 3, 1918, p. 17]
How were the surviving U. S. servicemen of World War I treated by the United States government?
Learn about “The Bonus Army," one of the most remarkable and vile episodes in American history.
Video on Youtube with original footage: “The March of the Bonus Army”
For more cases of this type see: “War-Marriage Vampires”& “Allotment Annies"