Had it not been for the rum ration I do not think we should have won the war.
1922 parliamentary testimony on shell shock
|Standard One-Gallon Rum Jar for the British Forces|
S.R.D.-Special Red Demerara, 86-proof Jamaican Rum
Although all but ignored in the official military records, rum, as well as the canteens, estaminets, cigarettes, letters, and trench newspapers, was essential to the trench soldier. It was these small comforts that affected the individual in the firing line; grand operational plans mattered far less. Rum was overflowing in both song and poem and played an essential role in the life of most trench soldiers: by raising morale; by helping men to cope with the strain of war; by being employed as a medicine; by being offered as a reward; and finally, by reinforcing the hierarchy of the army and the masculinity in soldiers.
|Taking Their Ration in a Trench|
By examining the many uses of rum, a window into understanding the often neglected trench culture of the individual soldier is provided. Viewed in this way, rum was a complex and multi-layered tool for morale. Equally important, "Demon Rum" was the soldiers' tool and without it, the common men who made up the soldiers' profession – the bankers, clerks and farmers, who put down their pens and ploughs for rifles – might have collapsed under the terrible strain, both physical and psychological, of trench warfare.
Under the spell of this all-powerful stuff, one almost felt that he could eat a German dead or alive, steel helmet and all.
Source: “More a Medicine than a Beverage”: “Demon Rum” and the Canadian Trench Soldier of the First World War
Tim Cook, Canadian War Museum