The connection between the British Navy and Gin is well known. The more muscular version of Plymouth Gin, Navy Strength, with 57% vol. Alcohol, left port on all her ships.
During the British Raj and then the Indian Rebellion of the 19th Century, for the army of British East India Company, Gin and Tonic was a commonplace drink. This is where tonic water comes from. The quinine the soldiers took as an anti-malarial was supplied as a powder and was extremely bitter, and by the early 19th Century, the army was adding sugar and carbonated water from syphons, instead of the unsafe local water. This was the original version of tonic water. Still fairly bitter, some added Gin to the mix to make it more palatable and the Gin and Tonic was born.
Recently, evidence of the Gin drunk by British troops during the first wold war have appeared close to the town of Ramle, in Israel. Hundreds of Gin bottles of Gin were found, alongside whisky bottles, apparently emptied by the British soldiers stationed there in 1917, in breaks from fighting the Turks.
The bottles were found in a well used as a rubbish dump by the British troops, where they threw their empties. Among the found bottles were some Gordon’s bottles. This important discovery lets us know a little more about the day to day of British soldiers, who seem to have taken full advantage of respite from fighting with a good deal of drink.