Saturday, 23 April 2016

'Treating' Wounded Soldiers

From the Brecon & Radnor Express, 13th April 1916.




At Presteign Petty Sessions, on Tuesday in last week, before Mr Whitmore Green-Price (in the chair) and Mr J. H. Wale, the chairman referred to the practice of treating wounded soldiers with drink.  He said there was a voluntary aid hospital at Corton, under the Red Cross Association, and he thought it was generally known that it was an offence, under the Defence of the Realm Acts, to supply intoxicating drink to any soldier who might be there for the time being.  He was sorry to say that the law in this respect had not been kept at Presteign, and there were several cases at the hospital where these soldiers had obtained intoxicating drink and come back to the hospital in a certain state.  He thought it was playing the game very low down for any person to supply this drink.  These poor fellows came back to the hospital, after fighting for their country, and the ladies, who worked day and night and gave up the whole of their time to try and get the men properly cured, while some ill-disposed person, by giving these men drink, undid all the good these ladies did at the hospital.  He felt so strongly on the matter that he should be glad if anyone who saw this practice going on would inform the police, with a view to their being prosecuted.  If any person were brought before them, he should be only too glad to do all he could to make the punishment fit the crime.

Sergt. Higgins said the prohibition of the supplying of drink to these soldiers applied to any person, whether in a private house or a licensed victualler.

The chairman appealed to the public of Presteign to try and assist the police in every possible way in putting a stop to the practice.

['Treating', i.e. buying a drink for another person in a pub, had been outlawed, because of worries over drunkenness reducing productivity.  From this report, it seems that giving alcohol to convalescent soldiers was against the law, wherever it took place.  I imagine that some of the soldiers would have welcomed free drinks, but evidently that was seen by the police and magistrates as a reflection of their weak physical and mental state.]  

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