Sunday, 11 January 2015

Drinking by Soldiers’ Wives

From the Glasgow Herald, 11th January 1915.


The War Office is now in possession – at its own request – of the reports made by the inspectors of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children on the alleged increase of drinking among women, more particularly soldiers’ wives who are in receipt of the separation allowance.  The result of the inquires made all over the kingdom by the society’s inspectors have resulted in the vindication of the characters of soldiers’ wives, who, in the opinion of the society, have suffered as a class for the wrong-doing of the few.  In the case of 122 branches the inspectors reported that there was in many cases actually less drinking than before the war, and no increase in any of them; in 26 there was an increase, but in 12, where there had been an increase shortly after the war broke out, the conditions had now improved.  In practically every branch the inspectors had been able to exert a beneficial influence over numbers of women ordinarily given to drink, and, as a result of the sobering influence of the times, they had, when persuaded to buy new clothes for their children, to pay off back rent and old debts, and even to open accounts in the Post Office Savings Bank.  Where women had wasted their allowance in drink and neglected their children it had been found on investigation that the drinking habit was of long standing.  In fact the society characterise the charges made against soldiers’ wives as a great slander.  

[There were many allegations that some soldiers' wives receiving the separation allowance had more cash than they had ever had before, and no husband to keep them in check, and that they were spending the extra cash on drink.  This was felt in some quarters to be immoral and a waste of public money, whether or not there were children involved. It was also thought by many people that the separation allowance was a charitable gift, not a right, and that anyone whose behaviour showed that they didn't deserve it - e.g, by drinking - should have it withdrawn.   This article does not combat that view, of course - it just says that most soldiers' wives were of good character, and so did deserve the allowance.]   

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