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How much alcohol did British soldiers drink while stationed in Israel during WWI?

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How much alcohol did British soldiers drink while stationed in Israel during WWI?

Hundreds of glass alcohol bottles from a World War 1 British army camp were uncovered in an archeological dig near Ramle, providing a glimpse into the lives of the soldiers during their campaign against Ottoman forces in 1917.

The bottles were found in a building that dates back to the Ottoman Empire but was used by British forces, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) Excavation Director Ron Toueg.

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“On November 15, 1917, the Egyptian Expeditionary Force under the command of General Allenby conquered the area around the towns of Lod and Ramle,” explained architect, conservator and researcher of the British army in Palestine Sherri Mark in a video uploaded by the IAA.

“Before occupying Jerusalem, the army encamped in the area where the archaeological excavation took place: the headquarters at Bir Salam – Ramle Camp and Sarafand Camp. The Army was based there for about nine months until a decision was made to continue the country’s conquest,” she explained.

A trash pit was found adjacent to the building, and provided a glimpse into the daily lives of the British troops.

Hundreds of bottles of alcohol were found at the archealogical dig at the WWI British encampment near Ramle (credit: IAA)Hundreds of bottles of alcohol were found at the archealogical dig at the WWI British encampment near Ramle (credit: IAA)

Some of the findings included parts of uniforms, such as buttons and belts, as well as the tip of a British officer’s swagger stick, which the liked to carry under their armpits. The swagger stick is the first if its kind found in Israeli excavations.

The most prevalent finding, however, was alcohol.

Nearly 70% of the waste that was uncovered was glass bottles, which had contained European wine, beer, gin and whiskey.  The large amount of alcohol suggests that the soldiers drank extensively, perhaps out of boredom or as a way to cope with the arduous and sometimes terrible experiences of war.

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How much alcohol did British soldiers drink while stationed in Israel during WWI?