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petestarling

HOSPITAL PATIENTS AND ALCOHOL

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petestarling

Just read in the summer edition of News an Ale an interesting piece entitled 'Drunk at wartime' The Story of Alcohol in the Aldershot area during the Great War.

It says that in January 1916 it became an offence to buy or give alcohol to a member of HM Forces undergoing hospital treatment. First I have heard of this. Any comments welcome.

Pete

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Moonraker

See my post 2 in this

2005 thread

Moonraker

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centurion

This has been discussed in a number of places on the forum The thread linked to is slightly misleading as it conflates Kitchener Blues with Hospital Blues and they were entirely different things. Hospital blues were the usual uniform for hospital patients and in one form or another were worn since the Crimean War (there are photos). because they were washed and reissued constantly the shade varies considerably. In WW1 they were a badge that got the convalescing soldier free entry into all sorts of places including many cinemas however they also tended to get him free drinks which was deemed prejudicial both to good order and the patient's recovery and an order was made (under DORA I think) that a soldier in hospital blues was neither to be given or sold alcohol. There were parts of the country where at times landlords were forbidden to serve any soldier whether in Khaki, Kitchener Blue or Hospital Blue. Sam Hughes made himself immensely unpopular with most of the CEF by getting such a prohibition established on Salisbury Plain when the CEF was waiting to go to France

The temporary Kitchener Blues were collected when adequate supplies of Khaki uniforms became available for able-bodied soldiers and were sent to Germany via a neutral country for use by POWs as many of their uniforms had been damaged in the actions in which they had been captured

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Moonraker

.... Sam Hughes made himself immensely unpopular with most of the CEF by getting such a prohibition established on Salisbury Plain when the CEF was waiting to go to France ...

As I've pointed out before, Sam Hughes was not responsible for the prohibition. Back in Canada, he had no control over British landlords serving beer. Before the First Contingent arrived on the Plain there were restrictions on when British troops might be served in local pubs, but within hours of the Canadians arriving there were complaints about their behaviour when seeking to consume alcohol in villages. Their CO, Edwin Alderson, took very prompt action to put pubs out of bounds and stressed to the GOC Southern Command the need for "wet" (alcohol-serving) canteens in the Canadians' tented camps. Having debated the matter, the Canadian Government acknowledged on 14 November (almost four weeks later) that there had been excesses and disorders among a few men in neighbouring towns and villages where the opportunity to purchase liquor presented itself.

(Yes, my Post 3 in the link I gave above was a bit naff, but it was nine years ago, when I was very junior ....)

Moonraker

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centurion

As I've pointed out before, Sam Hughes was not responsible for the prohibition. Back in Canada, he had no control over British landlords serving beer. Before the First Contingent arrived on the Plain there were restrictions on when British troops might be served in local pubs, but within hours of the Canadians arriving there were complaints about their behaviour when seeking to consume alcohol in villages. Their CO, Edwin Alderson, took very prompt action to put pubs out of bounds and stressed to the GOC Southern Command the need for "wet" (alcohol-serving) canteens in the Canadians' tented camps. Having debated the matter, the Canadian Government acknowledged on 14 November (almost four weeks later) that there had been excesses and disorders among a few men in neighbouring towns and villages where the opportunity to purchase liquor presented itself.

(Yes, my Post 3 in the link I gave above was a bit naff, but it was nine years ago, when I was very junior ....)

Moonraker

Plenty of evidence from diaries and letters to indicate that the CEF men blamed it on him

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petestarling

Thank you all for your replies and the link to the thread.

Pete

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MrSwan

I've been researching the role of the magistrate in the Great War and it would seem that this topic caused much trouble. I have a case from Bath of a couple of lads coming down from Fulham military hospital, in normal khaki uniform, to take the waters at the Royal Mineral Water Hospital. The landlord failed to enquire if they were hospital patients (why would he?) and ended up with a 10s fine. This was under an order given by the military authorities under the Defence of the Realm Act.

Similar orders restricted the hours during which soldiers could be served, which did not apply to civilians.

Additionally, under the Defence of the Realm (Liquor Control) Regulations 1915, it was an offence to buy a drink for any soldier (the "No Treating" Order) and in some areas this was applied to civilians.

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Gareth Davies

Plenty of evidence from diaries and letters to indicate that the CEF men blamed it on him

How much is plenty? A couple of letters/diary entries, tens, hundreds, thousands?

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Moonraker

I haven't come across any such references myself, but then there are thousands of documents I haven't consulted! My own researches suggest that Canadian soldiers on Salisbury Plain were inclined to blame the British authorities for the ban on visiting public houses, reserving their criticism of Hughes (Canada's Minister of Militia and Defence, BTW) for his insistence on their using the cumbersome MacAdam shovel-cum-shield (which we've discussed before) and other poor quality equipment, notably boots.

In all fairness to Hughes, he did assemble and equip a force of 32,000 men in very short time, the First Contingent arriving in England in mid-October 1914.

But I digress. To veer back a little to the original topic, one of the Contingent's chaplains remarked that "the [Wiltshire] publicans did their best to make what they could out of the well-paid Canadian troops …. The English people did not understand us, and many of our men certainly gave them good reason to be doubtful [through ill discipline and drunkenness].

Stanley Brittan of the 13th Battalion recorded in his diary that on his first day in camp, October 16, he went "down to the village [probably Tilshead, nearest to his camp at West Down South] … and got terribly drunk". On the 17th, he "went to the village again in the evening, but strong guard there". On the 19th, he optimistically tried the Bustard Hotel, the headquarters of General Alderson himself, but found a guard of about 20 soldiers around it. By then Alderson had received "serious complaints from local authorities". (The first Canadians had arrived on the Plain on the morning of the 16th.)

Alderson continued to receive numerous reports of considerable numbers of men on leave (and thus away from the restrictions of the Plain) being drunk and disorderly in London and other towns, but late in November he was able to reassure Sam Hughes that the "trouble in neighbouring villages has practically ceased since opening of canteens in camp".
Certainly the problem was exacerbated by civilians "treating" the Canadians. However, there was one occasion when a Canadian deserved getting drunk.He was the soldier, named in the local press only as Churchill, who rescued a little girl who had fallen into a stream swollen by flood water at Shrewton. He was mobbed by grateful villagers, who took him to the nearest public house and got him roaring drunk. He was probably Arthur H Churchill of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, who were billeted in the village.
Moonraker

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Jeremy Churchill

With reference to "The Canadian Army on Salisbury Plain: The First Canadian Contingent October 1914-February 1915", P. 74:

Arthur Norton Hickling Churchill was my great-uncle. As you say, he was in "B" Squadron of the Royal Canadian Dragoons and so quartered temporarily in Shrewton in January 1915 when the Canadians got blown out of Pond Farm Camp in December. Members of the family are doing research into our relatives and I would be interested to see the report you found in the local paper and a better scan of the picture on page 74 to decide whether it is our great-uncle Arthur or not. I was about to contact the publisher when I found this post . . .

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Moonraker

Hi Jeremy

and welcome to the Forum.

Any newspaper coverage would have been in the Salisbury Times or Salisbury Journal but I suspect that the reference to the grateful villages came from the memoirs of W S Lighthall, held at the Imperial War Museum, London.

Happily I had purchased the postcard showing a soldier holding a child. I recall peering at the cap badge to see if was that of the Dragoons and had a feeling it wasn't.

Now's a chance for the real experts to give their opinions:

post-6017-0-50669500-1420912999_thumb.jp

post-6017-0-49549500-1420913019_thumb.jp

Moonraker

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Jeremy Churchill

Hi Moonraker,

I've actually been signed up since June 2008, but my contributions have been very patchy due to pressure of work, etc. Came across your Wiltshire and the Great War book early last year in pursuit of another enquiry and then found you book on the Canadians. I know of another Arthur Churchill (who won the MM and then the MC), but that was 1917, so when I looked in the index and saw Churchill, Arthur H, I thought "It's got to be my great-uncle" although I hadn't heard that story before.

Have just tried to attach a photo of him taken in 1915, but it's too big and I've just realised I've got nothing to open and resave it on this new laptop. In the meanwhile, here's one of him taken at Clifton College in 1911. Think it's the same person?

post-35140-0-38752300-1420995060_thumb.j

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Moonraker

I'm not good at these comparisons, but it does seem to me that the two photos are of different men - the ears are different.

Only one other Churchill is listed in the List of Officers and Men Serving the First Canadian Contingent ..., probably produced in early November 1914; he was with the 6th Battalion, whose war diary seems not to have survived, but which was probably in the Lark Hill area in January 1915.

Of course it could be that the man in my photos is not the rescuer at all, though it does seem odd that he's holding a little girl in a flooded Shrewton at the time such a child was rescued from a stream over-flowing through the village.

Moonraker

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Jeremy Churchill

Hi there,

Sorry - festina lente and all that - my other great-uncle was Arthur's younger brother, Harold Archer Hickling Churchill, so it was one Harold S Churchill who won the MM and MC,later in the War.

As to the ears, I agree - doesn't look like the same man - and the little girl looks entirely too well-dressed and dry to have just been fetched out of a flooded stream. Perhaps the man was just any old passing Canadian when the press photographer arrived the next day to snatch a photo opportunity - while my great-uncle was still sleeping off his hangover . . .?

The Royal Canadian Dragoons cap badge, BTW, is as follows (source: http://www.dragoons.ca/):

RCD_cap_badge.jpg

Regards

Jeremy

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