Alcohol in the Trenches

Each battalion had its own supply of rum that it distributed to its soldiers. Each division (20,000 men) received 300 gallons. Rum was usually distributed after, rather than before an offensive. It was also issued during very cold weather. The French and German armies were more generous and supplied their soldiers with daily amounts of wine and brandy.

Primary Sources

(1) Private Harold Horne, Northumberland Fusiliers, interviewed 1978.

In winter there was a ration of rum, one or two tablespoons per man; this was a strong, black spirit which was usually issued during the morning 'stand-to'; it was very welcome on a cold winter's morning. It was supplied in a 'grey hen', a heavy earthenware jar marked SRD (Service Rum Department).