For over three centuries, until 1970, all Royal Navy vessels would ring out their ship’s bells just before noon every day. The famous call, ‘Up Spirits’ would be piped, calling sailors to report to the issue deck for their daily 70ml ‘tot’, or shot, of rum. But as the bells chimed on July 31 1970, 43 years ago today, British sailors were issued with their final rum ration and the popular ‘tot’ tradition was no more. What became of the drunken sailor?
Today within the Royal Navy & Royal Marines at sea, ‘black tot day’ will be remembered with the clank of a can of beer within the Seamen’s mess decks/RM barracks, (individual entitlement of three cans per man per day; negative spirits or wines, except Christmas day). Supported by the audible chink from raised glasses of rum, from within the PO’s & CPO’s Mess, as well as the Wardroom, will resonate in memory of what once was. “Down the hatch lads”!
Not once was I entitled to a daily rum ration, as I joined several years too late; though I new old sweats and salts who did partake in the age old Royal Naval tradition. One tradition I have participated in, is through the instructional order of “Splice the mainbrace“ on numerous occasions; far too many to recall a solid number (and often an issued tot for ‘medicinal purposes’ after various evolutions, when instructed by old school Sgt Majors, along with others). Yours Aye.