Booze as a battle winner.

#1
I have just attended the Battlefields Trust Waterloo event https://www.justgiving.com/account/your-pages/Battlefields-Trust-Waterloo-18-June-2012 and a story I heard prompted a thought about the vital military significance of...... BEER.

The Belgian Tourist Board (Brussels and Wallonia) and the Brasserie Bocq dontated 24 Bottles of Waterloo beer. This 8% electric soup is brewed in a brewery at Braine l'Alleud and the label makes the brave claim to be the same type of beer drunk by Allied troops at the battle of Waterloo.

This fits with some contemporary stories about the over exuberance of Dutch troops at the end of the battle of Waterloo. After spending all day camped around Braine l'Alleud, the troops of the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Netherlands Division were ordered into battle against the 1/3rd grenadiers of the imperial guard at 7 PM. 'They dashed into the fray shouting "Long live the House of Orange. Long live the King" An officer of the British 2/30th Foot wrote. " a heavy column of Dutch infantry, the first we had seen, passed, drumming and shouting like mad with their shakos on their top of their bayonets near enough on our right for us to see and laugh at them.” Funny or not, the charge was a success, and the Old Guard recoiled.' (Mark Adkins) A painting of this event used to hang in the officers mess of the 1st Armoured Division HQ and Signal Regiment at Wentworth Barracks Herford.

Now we know why. The British troops spent the 18th June standing in square and being shot at by the French. These Dutch soldiers spent the day tanking themselves up on Auntie Stella’s big sister. The horde of drunken Dutchmen unleashed on the French neither knew nor cared who they were fighting.

So rewrite the history. The battle of Waterloo may not in fact have been won by the Foot Guards on the playing fields of Eton. It may have been won in the breweries of Belgium.

Do you know of any other battles where alcohol played a critical factor?
 
C

cloudbuster

Guest
#2
Given the consequences of drinking dubious local water supplies on combat effectiveness, coupled to the process of brewing beer that ensures sterilisation by boiling, it is unsurprising that beer was the drink of choice for the squabbling masses.

As any self-respecting CWW will tell you. :)
 

Mr_Fingerz

LE
Book Reviewer
#3
Over proof rum played a huge role in the day to day existence of the soldiery of WWI.
 

Mr_Fingerz

LE
Book Reviewer
#5
Not battles as such but the Commies were held back in the Cold War era by yellow handbags, an SLR and a bottle of Hawaiian Tropic.
Not to mention Asbach and Coke, Myers Rum, Du Jardin Brandy and Apfelkorn.

(Not necessarily in the same glass at the same time).
 

TheIronDuke

ADC
Book Reviewer
#7
Do you know of any other battles where alcohol played a critical factor?
Oh, shedloads. From the shield walls of my ancestors to battering the **** out of Sunderland supporters in Big Market rammies.

Do a Google on 'The Royal Navy'? Or better yet, do a Google on John Paul Jones. A Scotsman not afraid of breaking out a dram and giving it some.
 

Mr_Fingerz

LE
Book Reviewer
#9

Mr_Fingerz

LE
Book Reviewer
#12
Embassy surely?
 
#13
Do you know of any other battles where alcohol played a critical factor?
Most of them, I suspect; as Cloudbuster noted water was very dodgy and everyone drank some form of alcohol until the arrival of affordable tea. European History makes more sense when considered as an international drunken brawl.

Lincoln, on being asked what he intended to do about Grant's prodigious alcohol consumption, said; "Find out what brand he drinks and send all my generals a case."

The Indian wars were also largely influenced by the white man's smallpox and firewater.
 
#14
Over proof rum played a huge role in the day to day existence of the soldiery of WWI.
It did indeed. After seeing his platoon cut to shreds on the opening day at Messines, my Grandfather calmed his nerves on his ration and that of those "who didn't need it anymore". After a while, he felt sufficiently emboldened to charge the strongpoint responsible for the carnage whereupon he captured 4 machine guns, killed the 8 enemy manning them and was awarded a DCM for doing so. I struggle to see how any sober individual would make the same decision.
 
#16
Not to mention Asbach and Coke, Myers Rum, Du Jardin Brandy and Apfelkorn.

(Not necessarily in the same glass at the same time).
But chances were they were in the same glass, and the drinkers pants were round his ankles.

Not so much alcholol, but weren't the Zulus fond of getting 'whizzed' up before a battle? And the Vikings were fond of a few scoops before battle, and some would embibe industrial quanties of drugs in order to enter Valhalla or the Field of Freya.
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#17
Given the consequences of drinking dubious local water supplies on combat effectiveness, coupled to the process of brewing beer that ensures sterilisation by boiling, it is unsurprising that beer was the drink of choice for the squabbling masses.

As any self-respecting CWW will tell you. :)
Commanders were fearful of cholera, beer/ale being sterilising the water to make beer helped avoid that. It wasn't until the mid 1800s though that the connection was made with the cholera outbreaks in London when the only ones who seemed immune were the brewery workers!
 
#18
The rumour was that a certain Jock VC winner in the Korean war was shitfaced at the time of winning it. Fair play for winning the VC but throwing Beer bottles when the Grenades ran out is poor form, at least throw tins of bully beef or stones, not the bloody beer.
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#19
Calm down the bottles were empty!
However the beer had been sent up to the platoon so they were being plied with beer to help them repel the commie hordes!
 
#20
Do you know of any other battles where alcohol played a critical factor?
Sure. The battle of aldershot/colchester/insertanygarrisontownhere on any given Friday or Saturday night.
 
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