Rum in the Trenches
Excerpted from "Canadian Medical Services Under Fire in the Commons," Ottawa Citizen, 7 February 1917
Gen. Alderson's Wet Canteen
Sir Sam Hughes stated that, profiting by experience at Valcartier, where one contractor had been found to have made $33,000 profit in three weeks, he had instituted the regimental dry canteen system in Canada and desired to follow suit in England. But in 1914 when he had gone to the Old Country he had been told that this matter was in General Alderson's hands alone. General Alderson had told the Canadian soldiers he was going to make free men of them with the wet canteen.
Hon. Charles Marell interjected to inquire on the issuing of rum to the troops in the trenches as a daily ration. Many people in Montreal were objecting to their sons running such risks.
Sir Robert Borden said he had never heard that rum was given to the men before going into action. It was merely a medicine.
Rum as a Stimulant
Sir Sam Hughes confirmed this with the statement that rum was allowed in the front line trenches as a stimulant for troops who often had to stand waist deep in cold water. Sir Sam said he took second rank to no man as a temperance advocate but did not want to hear any nonsense talked against this practice.