Some of the time it is condoned by the authorities, but most of the time it is frowned upon. Because of this you'll not find records, or archive files for this activity. However stories and anecdotes will appear within veterans accounts. What follows is just a smattering of such accounts that I've been able to find.
After the breakout in 1944, US Sherman tanks kept having an odd mechanical failure. Sherman's at the time had spring loaded clips to hold their ammunition in its racks. But these were failing and letting the ammunition fall out. It was a problem that couldn't be replicated. It later came to light that the crews were storing bottles of French wine in the ammo racks, as the wine bottles happened to be the same size as the 75mm rounds. Whenever the tanks were due for inspection the crews would simply remove the bottles.
|Oddball's Wine cooler|
A similar event happened in Germany the following year. As the German forces collapsed a pair of officers in a car went looking for drinks. They invited the unit Padre along for a drive in the countryside, and wandered into a town. As they were looking for the best place to locate the mess they were approached by a German soldier, who asked if they would accompany him. They followed him to the town hall where the local commander had drawn up all the forces under his command for a formal surrender.
Knowing that the brigade commander was on the way, and would disapprove of having the surrender taken by two lowly officers, they made their excuses and left. The Padre recalls seeing the brigade commander's tank come round the corner as they roared out of the town, and turned off down a side road.
In the days after D-Day several breweries in the UK had offered to supply their wares free of charge to the Armed Forces. They could deliver beer kegs to airfields in their locality.
Our next pair of stories come from the US and post war. In the late 1950's a particular brand of beer was only available in one location, and would spoil before it could be shipped to a remote US airbase. The airbase was operating F-86 Sabres. Again one bright serviceman noticed the dimensions of the beer bottles. They could be loaded onto the rocket rails fitted under the plane. It was found that about five cases could be loaded onto each F-86, and so whenever the jets left for the other side of the country they would always have empty rocket rails.
|Bottle or 2.75" FFAR?|
Such activities happen even today. In 1991 a British tank regiment was being deployed for operation Granby (Desert Shield/Storm).
|Beer crates arriving on a ship|