In response to Bob Penhearow's question on the Total Abstinence Medal,
I'm posting this answer to the mailing list as others might be
interested. I apologise for its length, but I thought that it was quite
Philip Haythornthwaite's book 'The Colonial Wars Source Book' says this :
'Much of the military's bad reputation was ascribed to alcohol, partly
the consequence of men having no other way to spend their off-duty hours,
and especially marked among Europenas serving in the colonies; as one old
officer remarked, pointing to a mountain, "Do you see that peak? Place a
Bengal artilleryman alone on top of that peak in the morning, and he'll
be drunk before night, wherever it may come from! Upon my soul, I think
they could get liquor out of the rock itself!"'
'Attempts were made to combat excessive drinking, including the
establishment of canteens where wholesome beer could be purchased instead
of lethal local brews, libraries and sports facilities; and education was
so encouraged that additional pay was granted to holders of certificates.
Also of significance were temperance movements which sought to reduce the
consumption of alcohol, if not outlaw it completely...'
'...The Soldiers' Total Abstinence Association was formed at Agra in 1858
by a Baptist missionary, the Revd. John Gregson, to which regimental
branches were affiliated. Gregson's organisation made considerable
progress ... and received support from many in authority, notably Lord
Roberts, who in 1887 amalgamated the STAA with another, less influential
movement, the Outram Institutes (founded by Sir James Outram in 1860 to
provide facilities for the useful employment of soldiers' off-duty
hours). The result was the Army Temperance Association (Roberts believing
that temperance would have wider appeal than total abstinence), which was
extended from India to Britain in 1893. Its membership (almost 36,00 by
1896 when both Indian and 'Home Organisation' are included) was
sufficiently extensive to cause a marked decline in drunkenness, crime
and punishment, and members were awarded medals which at ATA functions
could actually be worn in uniform (upon the right breast).'
Haythornthwaite's book then gives a picture of a medal with the caption :
'A medal of the Soldiers' Total Abstinence Association, in silver with
sky-blue ribbon, awarded for one years's abstinence; a clasp inscribed
"Fidelity" was issued to mark a second year's abstinence.'
Web Site : British Ancestors in India