Disoriented Doctors

  • Yorick Smaal
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


On a Friday night in late August 1943 Constable Clifford and Detective-Constable Wilhelm Raetz were on duty in Rockhampton, a coastal port town halfway up Queensland’s coast. They were patrolling the beat on foot, keeping a lookout for wartime mischief and misbehaviour as they walked through the streets. Just before 11pm, as they made their way down an unlit laneway, Raetz heard two male voices echo in the night air. He immediately flashed his torch in the direction of the conversation — the timing and location suggested something was amiss. The light revealed a 23-year-old single labourer, William, and a 16-year-old youth in ‘certain attitudes’ in the grounds of the nearby Salvation Army Citadel.1 The police rushed to the scene as the man and adolescent fumbled to rearrange their clothes. When they arrived at the Citadel, ‘Raetz asked the accused [William] how long the practice had been going on. The accused asked “Why?” and Raetz replied he had asked the question because he had seen the accused committing an unnatural offence’.2 The officers arrested the suspects soon after.


Criminal Justice System Friday Night Irregular Mode Disoriented Doctor Sexual Instinct 
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  1. 1.
    William appears as Walter in my published account of this affair appearing in the Journal of the History of Sexuality, although his name has been changed here to avoid confusion: Yorick Smaal, ‘“It is One of Those Things That Nobody Can Explain”: Medicine, Homosexuality and the Australian Criminal Courts during World War II’, Journal of the History of Sexuality, 22, 3 (2013), 501–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    William A. Isdale, ‘The Rise of Psychiatry and its Establishment in Queensland’, Royal Historical Society of Queensland Journal, XIV, 12 (1992), 501.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Yorick Smaal 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yorick Smaal
    • 1
  1. 1.Griffith UniversityAustralia

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