Rum And The Great War

1389 Words 6 Pages
Lastly, rum was also considered to be a necessity in terms of the social interactions it created, Cook describes the accounts of men that describe their first tot of rum as a “coming of age” initiation in to being a proper masculine soldier. The other aspect of social interactions built around rum are the other similar morale boosters including letters, cigarettes, parcels and food. He describes these as the “simple pleasures” for soldiers and were all part of the social structures and norms built around the rum culture. For many soldiers, rum was just as important a ration as food, if not sometimes more important. Many soldiers had found the food to be monotonous, inedible or had lost their appetites completely as a result of the conditions …show more content…
Cook assesses the prohibitionist movements in Canada, and contrasts the view of soldiers as rum being a necessity for surviving the trenches with the ideology that “demon rum” had the ability to corrupt men’s souls in addition to taking their bodies. Additionally, he highlights the fact that prohibition was not a new concept within Canada, however, the conditions of the Great War provided supporters of the temperance movement with a strong foothold to see the success of their activism carried out nationwide. Thompson readily provides support for this argument in his piece by constructing a general history of prohibition movements within the Prairies region specifically; that region being a hotbed for reformist movements one of which was prohibition, and how the Great War was able to support the causes these reformist organisations lobbied …show more content…
By 1917 all provinces except for Québec had enacted prohibition laws, many of the soldiers were unhappy to hear of the possibility of the law spreading, in a letter home to his father, George Bird quotes and responds to a highly controversial article (unknown which one) and remarks, “Does he think we are swimming in it?.. .What sacrifices is he making in the war? If he has any sons at the front am sure that they must be very ‘pleased’ and ‘proud’ of such a father”. This example of a single reaction to the prohibition movement at home illustrates and highlights the divide between the soldiers abroad and those at home. The “necessity” of rum is not wholly understood by those at home, because they face a completely different war experience. Another soldier candidly tells his mother how enthusiastic soldiers are to receive their ration of rum and how they willingly wait the extra few minutes in line to get it. He echoes the sentiment made by Bird, “If you ever hear anybody say that they think it’s a shame that soldiers are given rum why just tell them a thing or two from me. I’ll bet they don’t have any boys over here they don’t know under what conditions we have to live over here.” Additionally, many jabs were made at the WCTU supporters at home by soldiers in their letters home as

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