Jim Bolin and the Wine Barrel

Jim Bolin was my grandfather. He was in the Cavalry back when they really were Cavalry and rode horses. He was in W.W.I. We'd go fishing together when I was very young and he’d tell me story after story about being in the Army. I’d like to tell you a story he told me.

Jim had been in France for several months. It was his unit's turn to rotate to the rear area for time off the front line and out of trench warfare. It was a welcome relief, but after a few days, being in the rear area was extremely boring. There were two or three men to do what one man could have done and after being on the front lines, looking busy wasn’t what any of the men wanted to do.

About a mile from where they were camped was a vineyard. They had a large storage barn there with hundreds of huge barrels of wine. Some had over 500 gallons of wine in them. You could clearly see the barn where the wine was stored from the stable area. Granddad came up with an idea.

After dark one night, he formed up a group of guys and they made a stealth raid on the vineyard. They broke into the barn and from the loft, selected a huge barrel of wine. Jim had spent time on sailing ships, so he knew about rigging lines. They lowered the huge wine barrel to the ground from the loft and then rolled it back to the stable area. While they were gone, another group of guys were busy digging a hole where the manure was stacked. The wine detail arrived and they lowered the big wine barrel into the hole, ran a line to one of the stables and hid it behind bales of straw, then covered the barrel with dirt and manure.

For the next week, everyone wanted stable duty. They were the happiest bunch of stable hands the captain had seen. He knew they were drinking, but couldn’t find their supply and wasn’t too worried about it; after all, they were there to rest and recuperate.

In a few days, the captain was told of a large barrel of wine being stolen from the local vineyard. He put two and two together and knew it had to be why so many of his men were so drunk in the evening and happy during the day. He called a formation.

He told the men he knew it was they who had stolen the wine and made every man in the company pay his fair share for the wine…himself included. He then told them that the guy who owned the vineyard wanted the barrel back. In a few days, the barrel was empty. There was another midnight raid. Only this time, the guys rolled the barrel back to the vineyard and put it back in the loft, again without being seen. It was a perfect crime…the men stole the wine and put the wine barrel back and the vineyard got paid for the wine and had the barrel returned.



Originally posted on 1st Cavalry Association Guest Book
by, and included here with permission from Steve Richey

ęSteve Richey, 2003-2009, All Rights Reserved.

E-Mail to Steve Richey: