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ration, special notice of the demand must be given.'



54 DRINK AND THE WAR

" This very important paragraph of the Regulations
has now been struck out, and the rum ration inserted
as such into the regular dietary of the British soldier
on active service. The nation is, therefore, by the
new Regulations thrust back again to the misery,
inefficiency, and demoralisation of sixty years ago.

" In fulfilment of this new development of the liquor
evil in our Army just when other nations, and espe-
cially our Allies, are endeavouring to suppress it, the
authorities have contracted for the supply of over
500,000 gallons of rum, of which more than 250,000
gallons had already been sent to France by the end
of November 1914.

" The following physiological effects have been
observed by military and naval officers to follow from
the issue of the rum ration

" ' 1. Decadence of moral. Causation of grousing,
friction, and disorder.

" ' 2. Drunkenness. Punishments. Degradations
in rank.

" ' 8. Decadence of observation and judgment.
Causation of errors and accidents.

" ' 4. Loss of endurance and diminution of physical
vigour. Causation of fatigue, falling out, and
slackness.

" ' 5. Loss of resistance to cold. Causation of
chilliness, misery and frostbite.

" ' 6. Loss of resistance to disease (particularly
those occurring under conditions of wet and cold),
namely, pneumonia, dysentery, typhoid fever.

" ' 7. Loss of efficiency in shooting. (Half the
rum ration causes a loss of 40 to 50 per cent, in
rifle shooting. The Navy rujn ration causes a loss
of 80 per cent, in gunnery shooting.) '

" That all these evils, and increase of the difficulties
our men have already to contend against on active
service/ are the direct and invariable result of issuing



DRINK AND THE SOLDIER 55

the rum ration is, of course, well known; and it is
incomprehensible that Lord Kitchener's repeatedly
expressed hatred of the alcoholic curse of armies
should have been overborne, yet such is the case, and
the nation and the Army must suffer in proportion.
" I must now deal with the rum ration Regulation
so far as it directly concerns the honour of the medical
profession, which is also gravely involved. The
Regulation in its most recent shape is as follows
(No. 34, 1914)

" ' On very exceptional occasions, as when the
troops have been drenched or chilled through ex-
posure on manoeuvres or training a free ration of half
a gill (/ T gallon) of rum [2| oz.] may if available
be issued under the authority of the G.O.C. when
certified by the Senior Medical Officer to be ab-
solutely necessary for safeguarding the health of
the troops.'

" This Regulation embodies a number of specific
statements and suggestions which are in every
instance incorrect though frequently asserted in the
House of Commons and regularly furnished officially
to various inquirers and seekers after the truth.

" Thus, to begin with the first words : the rum
ration in France is not issued on ' very exceptional
occasions,' but every day, and in one case which has
come to light it was issued twice a day. The practice
differs according to the views of the officer command-
ing a unit, but from being sporadic, as ordered in
the Regulations, it has now become epidemic and
constant up to the present date. The ration being
now regularised the troops are therefore receiving a
full quantity of spirits constantly and not ' very
exceptionally.'

" The next point is the phrase in which the Regula-
tion repeats the old, worn-out, mischievous error that



56 DRINK AND THE WAR

people who are wet and ' drenched ' are helped to
resist any ill effects thereof by a dose of alcohol,
whereas, in fact, the condition is reversed, because
the alcohol increases radiation from the wet skin
which is already cooling by the evaporation of the
moisture. But the Regulation even more seriously
mis-states the action of alcohol by suggesting it
should be given to troops chilled by exposure to wet
and cold as a curative procedure. Ignorance of
physiology is often brought forward by non-medical
persons as an excuse for their taking alcohol, and
perhaps the absence of the Army Medical Department
from the Army Council must be held partly responsible
for this monstrous and fatal mistake.

" All physiological researches have shown that
alcohol aggravates the effect of chilling in two ways :
first, by increasing the loss of heat by radiation from
the surface, as already referred to ; and secondly, by
checking the oxidation in the tissues, so lowering the
temperature of the body, diminishing its resistance
to cold and weakening the circulation in the ex-
tremities. The folly of taking alcohol in cold weather
has been proved up to the hilt by all dwellers, workers,
and explorers in cold climates for more than a hundred
years.

" One of the greatest causes of invaliding in the
present campaign is ' frostbite ' not the necrotic
form so much as a severe vascular paralysis, with
secondary oedema and neuritis. No better way of
encouraging such frost-bite could have been imagined
than the issue of the rum ration, since alcohol pro-
duces the circulatory changes requisite for the first
stage of this incapacitating and painful condition.
But the unfortunate soldier wet up to his waist and
in freezing water is nevertheless told by H. M. Regula-
tions that rum will ' safeguard ' his health and comfort
him (especially if the * senior medical officer ' certifies
that this is so).



57

" Probably this liquor trade fiction that spirits are
beneficial instead of harmful to people who are wet
and cold is more popular than any other excuse for
intoxication, but that is no reason why it should be
enshrined in the King's Regulations.

" Take the next point in the Regulations, the
quantity of raw spirit to be given to each man,
namely 2| oz. Half that quantity, as already stated,
ruins the soldier's rifle shooting, and the ordinary
ration is enough to make a soldier heady and excitable,
incapable of his normal physical endurance or tolera-
tion of fatigue and intolerant of discipline.

" We now come to the last point in the Regulation,
and in one sense the most important because involving
(without their consent) the medical profession.

" The final statement in the Regulation amounts to
this, that the general officer commanding the unit
may order rum to be issued ' when ' (but, be it noted,
not ' only when ') the ' senior medical officer certifies
that it is absolutely necessary for safeguarding the
health of the troops.'

" If * when ' had been ' only when,' no rum ration
could ever have been issued, for, of course, no medical
officer, however old-fashioned, could ever perjure
himself by signing any certificate of the kind laid
down in the Regulations, namely, that a tot of rum
was ' absolutely necessary to safeguard the health '
of anybody, and, above all, that there would be no
health in anybody unless they drank the tot of rum
provided by the Government ' on very exceptional
occasions.'

" It is interesting to see how this really wickedly
ridiculous medical ' certificate ' has gradually been
evolved by our non-medical military authorities.

" Years ago, when the rum ration was given really
' exceptionally,' and only to flying columns, the
Regulation included the words ' on the recommenda-
tion of the medical officer.' Around this has grown



58 DRINK AND THE WAR

up a whole cluster of medical myths invented by
those whose pleasure in incipient intoxication entirely
overcomes any national or patriotic feelings they
may once have possessed. These myths have no
doubt derived their greatest support from the fact
that the War Office informs all applicants and in-
quirers on the subject that rum is only issued ' on the
recommendation of the medical officer ' a statement
which immediately satisfies the unwary, though the
issue of rum has nothing to do with the medical care
of the soldier, but really is a matter between the
commanding officer and the quarter-master's supply
department.

" The person who writes to the War Office, and gets
this answer, of course tells his friends that the rum
is only given to a soldier on the advice of the doctor.
These fables reached their highest development about
two months ago, when the London correspondent of
a celebrated provincial paper assured its readers that
no issue of rum was made to the soldier except on the
written prescription of his medical officer. What a
vivid imagination this correspondent must have
possessed to figure to himself the overworked officers
of the R.A.M.C. in France at the present time writing
out 250,000 prescriptions for rum every day !

" But let us return to the impossible form of certifi-
cate which the ' senior medical officer ' is nevertheless
supposed by the Regulations to give, namely, that
rum is an ' absolutely essential ' thing to maintain
and protect the health of the soldier.

" It follows from this Regulation that since the
interests of the country demand that every soldier's
health should always be at its best, every soldier
should have the rum thus absolutely ordered by the
doctor, but that is not so. In spite of the so-called
medical certificate, Mr. Tennant, on behalf of the
War Office, stated in the House of Commons on
November 16, 1914, that it was entirely untrue to



DRINK AND THE SOLDIER 59

say that every soldier had rum. On the contrary it
was only given to those who asked for it !

" By which statement the whole of the War Office
case, that rum is issued as a medical provision and
on the recommendation of the doctors, was swept
away at one blow. By the same statement also the
King's Regulation No. 34 was made into as complete
nonsense officially as it is of course scientifically. Is
it too much to hope that the authorities will now cease
this unjustifiable use of the good name of the medical
profession ?

" In the interests of the soldiers there only remains
the further point also extracted from Mr. Tennant
on the same occasion, namely, that as rum is only
a deception and neither warms nor feeds, and only
injures the soldier, what should he receive instead,
especially if he has been sufficiently patriotic to follow
Lord Robert's advice and become a teetotaler ? Mr.
Leif Jones asked this question, and was answered
by Mr. Tennant as follows : ' If my honourable friend
had heard my answer, he would have realised that an
alternative is given.' But on referring to the said
answer by Mr. Tennant (Hansard, col. 202-3, 16.11.14)
there is no allusion whatever to any such alternative
to the rum ration being given, and, as a matter of
fact, none is either given nor is it provided for in the
King's Regulations (34 or 35.)

" Undoubtedly from a physiological standpoint the
question of an alternative to the rum ration is one
which should be answered by the medical profession,
and can be at once. The interests of the soldier
require that he should be supported as far as possible
against chilling and fatigue, mental and physical.
Much has been said of the admirable way our army
has been furnished with ordinary food in this cam-
paign all through, though in my opinion a supply of
adequate food was but the very least that a wealthy
empire should provide for men rendering it such



60 DRINK AND THE WAR

splendid services. But on this matter of food we are
cheating these men in the old Georgian way, with
the same old deception of a rum ration. Physiology
has proved that a man who is doing hard physical
and nerve-trying work needs extra warmth and food ;
above all, hot liquid or semi-liquid nourishment easily
assimilated which, by being function-restoring, is
genuinely stimulating. In the present trench cam-
paign there is no difficulty in supplying hot milk
flavoured with coffee, chocolate, etc., or hot thick
soups, in the night or early morning. For troops
on the march probably one more ' cooker ' or field
kitchen per unit must be supplied, but the provision
of hot liquid food the real genuine alternative to
the cold deception rum is perfectly simple.

" Yet this question of supplying a real alternative
for the rum sham is indeed no small matter, seeing
that warm nourishment enables a man to shoot better
and encourages him to go forward, whereas rum
makes him shoot badly and inclines him to sit still or
even go back.

" There remains another point of no little national
importance too. Probably 200,000 to 250,000 men in
the ranks now were teetotalers. At the least the
empire ought to provide fully for these men who have
followed Lord Roberts 's lead, and it should not
attempt to ruin their physique and moral with a
spirit ration, under the false statement that it is
' absolutely essential to safeguard their health.' '

Sir Victor Horsley is not a teetotal fanatic who
can be accused of making rash statements with no
basis of truth. He is a man who knows what he is
talking about. Personally, I would rather trust his
opinion on any matter of health than that of the Army
Council. Presumably it is the same with most
people. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that
very many people are inclined to agree with him that



DRINK AND THE SOLDIER 61

the revival of the rum ration was a very grave mistake
on the part of the military authorities.
However, things are doubtless not quite so bad as
some earnest temperance reformers at first feared.
In reply to a letter addressed to him by Mr. Tom
Wing, M.P., Lord Kitchener caused the following
letter to be sent :

"DEAR SIR, Lord 'Kitchener asks me to explain,
with reference to your letter of the 28th ultimo, that
rum is only issued to the troops on special occasions
by orders of the General Officer Commanding, acting
on the advice of his medical officers. There is no
intention of letting it be issued except in the form of a
medicinal stimulant to exhausted men spending long
hours in wet trenches, and then, as I explained above,
strictly in accordance with medical advice."

Nevertheless, it is more than doubtful, in view of
Sir Victor Horsley's statements, whether rum or any
other alcoholic stimulant justifies the faith which the
military authorities have in their virtues. Certainly,
the revival of the rum ration in 'the army has done
much to counteract the good results of Lord Kitchener's
words and has increased the difficulties in the way of
a satisfactory settlement of the problem of Drink and
the War.



CHAPTER VI

DRINK AND THE NEW ARMY

As a result of the war Britain has raised the largest
Army that she has ever mobilised in the course of her
history. Exact figures, of course, are not available,
but it is not disclosing any secret to say that there
are something like 3,000,000 men under arms in
the British Empire at the present moment. This
huge army is not only the largest force that has ever
been recruited by voluntary methods, it is also the
most democratic. In the past the ranks of the Army
have been filled for the most part by those who are
unable to find employment in civil life. But the
new Army is drawn from all classes of society. The
magnificent response of the manhood of the Empire
must not blind us to the fact that there are various
problems connected with the new Army which were
not apparent, at least not to so great an extent, in
the old.

The professional soldier of the old type was
generally very well able to take care of himself. He
had been brought up in the rough and ready school
of experience and was well acquainted with the world
and its ways. The new Army includes men of a very
different type. Hundreds of thousands have come
forward from the middle classes. They have tem-
porarily deserted the offices in which they were
employed in order to qualify for the field of battle.
Young men of this description, such as civil service
and bank clerks, are not usually well acquainted

62



C3

with the ways of the world. They have for the most
part been secluded from many unpleasant realities,
they have always mixed with people of their own
class, they have always been protected by home
influences. They are now leading an utterly different
life ; they are associating with all sorts and conditions
of men ; they find themselves face to face with many
new temptations and free from the restraining
influences to which they are accustomed. Their
education and upbringing are not such as are likely
to mould firmness of character. Hence, it is not
surprising to find that some of them have been led
astray by bad influences.

Obviously one of the greatest temptations which
lie in the path of the recruit is excessive drinking.
Soldiering is thirsty work, and while it is not always
possible to obtain palatable non-alcoholic drink there
is always an abundant supply of cool refreshing beer
at hand. This danger, which affects both the welfare
of the recruits themselves and the efficiency of the
new Army, has been recognised on all sides. A few
days before he died, Lord Roberts issued the following
appeal through the Press :

" Will you kindly allow me, through the medium
of your paper to make an appeal to my country men
and women upon a most vital subject which is causing
me very great uneasiness ?

" All classes in the United Kingdom are showing a
keen interest in our forces engaged in the struggle
now going on for our country's existence as a nation,
and they are being munificent in their efforts to
supply the wants of our gallant soldiers and sailors
fighting abroad. But I feel it my duty to point out
to the civil population that putting temptation in
the way of our soldiers by injudiciously treating them
to drink is injurious to them and prejudicial to our
chances of victory. Thousands of young recruits are



64 DRINK AND THE WAR

now collected together in various places, and are hav-
ing their work interfered with and their constitutions
undermined by being tempted to drink by a friendly
but thoughtless public, and also by the fact that
public-houses are kept open to a late hour of the
night. I cannot believe that the owners of such
houses are less patriotic and more self-seeking than
their fellow-subjects, or that they would deliberately
for the sake of gain, prevent our soldiers being suf-
ficiently trained in body and nerve to enable them
to undergo the strain of the arduous service which
is before them a strain which only the strongest
physically and morally can be trusted to endure.

" I therefore beg most earnestly that publicans in
particular and the public generally will do their best
to prevent our young soldiers being tempted to drink.
My appeal applies equally for the members of the
oversea contingents, who have so generously and un-
selfishly come over here to help us in our hour of
need. I hear that 300 of the Canadian contingent
are to take part in the Lord Mayor's Show (to-day),
and my sincere hope is that, while extending to them
a hearty British welcome, no temptation to excess
may be put in the way of these soldiers of the King,
men whom the nation delights to honour, which will
tend to lower them in the eyes of the world."

Lord Kitchener also realised that the recruits had
enemies in Britain as well as in Germany and he
appealed to the patriotism and common sense of the
country to help rather than hinder the training of
the new Army. "The men," he said; "who have
recently joined the Colours are doing their utmost
to prepare themselves for active service with the
least possible delay. This result can only be achieved
if by hard work and strict sobriety they keep them-
selves thoroughly fit and healthy.

" Lord Kitchener appeals to the public, both men



DRINK AND THE NEW ARMY 65

and women, to help the soldiers in their task. He
begs every one to avoid treating the men to drink,
and to give them assistance in resisting the tempta-
tions which are often placed before them.

" Lord Kitchener suggests that in the neighbour-
hoods where soldiers are stationed committees should
be formed to educate public opinion on this subject,
and bring home its importance to those who prevent
our soldiers from being able to do their duty to their
country in a thoroughly efficient manner."

The obvious meaning of Lord Kitchener's words
was that he expected the recruits to be practically
abstainers from alcoholic drink during the period of
their training. It is equally obvious that with
facilities for drinking available on every hand it was
absolutely necessary for the general public to do its
best to assist the recruits to live up to the expectation
of the War Secretary. It is useless to blame the
recruits for exceeding the limits of strict moderation
when all their civilian friends are " drinking as usual "
and continually pressing them to have drinks. Un-
fortunately the public did not realise its duty in this
matter, in spite of the appeals of Lord Roberts and
Lord Kitchener. In the Territorial force and the
new Army the vast majority of offences against dis-
cipline have been caused either directly or indirectly
through over-indulgence in beer and other alcoholic
liquors, generally due to the senseless generosity of
civilian " friends."

A very small proportion of such offences are due
to the drunken habits of the men themselves. The
new Army is the most sober force that Britain has
ever raised, but it would be even more sober if it were
not for the attentions of its friends. Writing on this
subject, Lord Tullibardine, the Brigadier-General
Commanding the Scottish Horse Brigade, writes

" From the experience I have had in this and other
F



66 DRINK AND THE WAR

wars, I may say that drunkenness among soldiers
depends mainly on the temptations put in their way
in the various localities in which they may be. Where
the civilian population rises to its responsibilities
drunkenness is at a minimum; where the civilian
population does not do so it is a maximum. Where
the civilian population arranges counter-attractions
drunkenness is considerably less than where the
civilian population takes no such steps. At Bedford
I have had one regiment, at Kettering four, and
drunkenness at Bedford has been nil and at Ketter-
ing very slight and easily coped with. In these
places public-houses were out of bounds at 8.30 p. m.,
and the civilian population not only set an example,
but provided counter-attractions and places of
recreation. While I was at Perth whisky was literally
forced down the throats of my men. No one did the
slightest thing to assist us to get counter-attractions
for our men, and we were inundated with floods of
undesirable women. That this is the fault of localities
and not necessarily of the system is obvious, as in
one industrial town we found cleanliness in every
way, and in others the reverse. It is only fair to add
that down here the men have not got their old asso-
ciations, and thus can get away from their former
civilian habits and friends, if any. Also, whisky is
not the principal beverage. One thing I should like
to say, and that is that all railway bars should be
stopped from selling intoxicants, not only to soldiers
but to civilians, during the present crisis. I think
you will find that things are shaking down now, and
are not so bad as they were when recruiting was going
on ; but the trouble will crop up twice as badly when
the men are discharged. I would support almost any
temporary measure at that time when the war is over.
I also think it would be of great advantage if we had
an early-closing order about the time of the New
Year."



DRINK AND THE NEW ARMY 67

The failure of the public to realise its duties forced
the military authorities to take the matter in hand.
Under the Defence of the Realm Act, which was
passed at the beginning of the war, they were em-
powered to require all licensed premises within or in
the neighbourhood of any defended harbour to be
closed except for such time as the order might specify.
In September these powers were extended. Since
that time the naval and military authorities could,
if they thought fit, close every public-house in the land.
Acting under the power steps were taken for dealing
with the evil in those areas where it was most preva-
lent. Throughout the Northern Command that is,
in Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, Lincoln-
shire, Notts, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire
and Rutland it was ordered that the sale and con-
sumption of alcoholic liquors must cease on all
licensed premises at 9 p.m., and such premises were
closed to members of the Army and Navy except
between the hours of 12 and 1 p.m. and 6 and 9 p.m.,

These restrictions did not by any means stamp out


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