Day of Mourning

R.I.P.

31st July 1970

 

 

Last day of “the Tot” in the Royal Navy

Tot Issue

A standard naval tot of rum consisted of an eighth of a pint of rum (which was over 50% ABV, and was traditionally named “overproof”). Generally spirits are about 40% in comparison.

Once a rating reached the age of twenty he was entitled to draw his tot. Senior Rates were entitled to drink this neat, however Junior Rates had “2 in 1″ which meant that it was mixed with two parts water to one part rum. The reason for this was so that the rum could not be stored and saved for *another day. The rum was a blend from different countries in the Caribbean, most notably British Guyana, British Virgin Islands and Trinidad.

* When fridges were introduced on to the Mess Decks, “Jack” found he could get neaters if he put the tot in the freezer compartment. Never tried it so cannot say if the seperation of water and Rum worked!

The official reason for stopping the tradition of supplying a tot to ratings was that the Royal Navy had much sophisticated equipment and weaponry onboard and needed sober sailors to operate it.

It was deemed that the Chief Petty Officers and Petty Officers would be allowed their own bars to purchase any spirits or beer. The Junior Rates would be entitled to purchase an extra can of beer, making three cans of beer a day. Does this mean that it was the Junior rates who had to stay “sober” so as to operate the “much sophisticated equipment and weaponry“, cos the Senior Rates were too pissed to carry out any task whatsoever?

Please note that the lowly “sober” sailor had to consume his three “tinnies” by “pipe down” (Bed Time about 11pm) If you were caught with a can after that, you were in trouble. In the meantime those, so called “technical” Senior Rates were still propping up the bars in their messes, deciding, no doubt as to which Junior Rate should do all the work for him the next day!

New Zealand was the last Navy in the world to give daily rum “tots” (1/8 pint), a tradition begun by the Royal Navy over 300 years ago. The daily tot of rum was originally issued to sailors to compensate for the poor food and living conditions, and to keep morale high.

Rum tots are still given on some special occasions (such as the Queen’s birthday) as authorised by the order ‘splice the main brace’, issued by the sovereign or her representative.

Click The Tot song

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ODE TO THE TOT 1

In the days of Admiral Nelson

Or it might have been before

The Navy got it’s heritage

Its customs and it’s law.

Now some of these were good things

and some of them were not

but they’ll never find how to replace

that daily little tot.

It isn’t served haphazard

like tea or even beer

but with pencil book and water

and other useless gear.

“Jack Dusty” and his “winger”

perform a sacred rite

they brew a swill called “ two and one”

On which we have to fight.

With bottle jug and fanny

we muster at the shrine

“get into line you sailors”

“that first fanny’s mine!”

Then with murmered incantations

Such as “seven, one, two”

the high priest and his acolyte

dispense the holy brew.

When the seas are breaking over

and you feel you’ve had enough

when the “chef” has dropped his tatties

and his “oppos” burnt the duff!

when your lockers full of hogwash

and your hammocks gone to rot

there’s nothing that can quite touch it

your daily little “tot”!

***************************************************************

ODE TO THE TOT 2

In the Navy of the 70’s

The beginning of the rot

The day they killed the Andrew

 

Was the day they stopped the tot

Oh! They go to east of suez

Or west to Panama

When your bely’s ful of limers

You cant go very far

 

 The legend of the rum tub

Is still there to be seen

But the motto looks quite silly

 

 On the side of the goffer machine

You will hear old sailors saying

It’ll never be the same

And when they talk of bubbly

 

They don’t mean French champagne

Did jack flinch at Trafalgar

As he faced shot and shell

With a tot inside his belly

 

Our jack would sail through hell

At ten to twelve each forenoon

Since they Andrew first began

Jack drinks the blood of Nelson

 

From Jutland to Japan

Their Lordships sip their Sherry

And cry “more efficiency”

But what works on paper

 

doesn’t always work at sea

Now jack is a humble sailor

who doesn’t ask a lot

and after Jutland and Trafalgar

 

who dares to stop his tot

He’s always done his duty

to country and the throne

and all he asks is fairness

 and to leave his tot alone

R.I.P.

31st July 1970 the day of the last tot.

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History of  the  “Pussers Tot”

A standard naval tot of rum consisted of an eighth of a pint of rum (which was over 50% ABV, and was traditionally named “overproof”). Generally spirits are about 40% in comparison.

Labelling spirits today as overproof or underproof is derived from the early method of treating Jamaica rum in the naval victualling yards before it was issued to the warships. The rum used to arrive in England at 140 degrees overproof after which it was reduced to 95.5 degrees underproof by having water added to it. A small amount of the mixture was poured over some grains of gunpowder and then a magnifying glass was used to ignite it. If the burning alcohol managed to stay alight then it was said to be “proof”, and if it didn’t light then it was underproof. If it exploded then it was overproof. Proof spirit today is legally defined as that which has a specific gravity of 12/13 (92.3 percent) at 51ºF, and of course they don’t do the gunpowder/magnifying glass test any more.

Once a rating reached the age of twenty he was entitled to draw his tot. Senior Rates were entitled to drink this neat, however Junior Rates had “2 in 1″ which meant that it was mixed with two parts water to one part rum. The reason for this was so that the rum could not be stored and saved for another day. The rum was a blend from different countries in the Caribbean, most notably British Guyana, British Virgin Islands and Trinidad.

I recall that the Tot in the Far East was less superior than the rum that was despathed from the Rum barrels held at Clarence Yard, Gosport. UK. If I am correct, the Far East tot was a Australian blend. It smelt like a shitty babies nappy…and if i recall tasted probably the same? To identify the place of origin, the Aussie flagons had a orange seal whereas the Clarance Yard (Gosport, England) flagons had a red seal.

The official reason for stopping the tradition of supplying a tot to ratings was that the Royal Navy had much sophisticated equipment and weaponry onboard and needed sober sailors to operate it.

It was deemed that the Chief Petty Officers and Petty Officers would be allowed their own bars to purchase any spirits or beer. The Junior Rates would be entitled to purchase an extra can of beer, making three cans (Tinnies) of beer a day.

So now bearing that in mind, Senior Rates can now get pissed on spirits and pints whilst lowly Jack Tar has to make do with three “tinnies”! Obviously the idiot who came to this decision, was obviously under the impression that Senior Rates had no part in the handling of the asaid “sophisticated weapons and equipment”, so were entitled to get pissed!

The only time that Jack might have been under the influence of his Tot, would probably been on his birthday, when he would have had a few “call rounds” (invitation to a sippers or gulpers of another ratings Tot).

2 Responses to Day of Mourning

  1. Neil Price

    July 31, 2012 at 15:07

    The reason you got Aussie or Yarpee bubs in Singers was that the Aussies and Yarpees used to return their home brewed concoctions to SNSO Singapore Dockyard on some deliberate pretext or other (painting the Spirit Room was a favourite) and then restore. Their crap rum went to the back of the storeroom and our good W.I. bubs came out at the front and they got it. As time went by, their crap appeared at the front and as there were more UK ships in Singers the chances were that a UK ship would store with and end up with the Aussie and Yarpee crap. I was there on the Loch Fada and on the receiving end as well.

  2. robbyg

    August 1, 2012 at 09:53

    Thanks for that Neil…I can quite believe it. Pity we were not in on the scam as we would surely have probably refused a delivery of the “Orange sealed” wax tops and insisted on the good old “Red sealed” that would have, I assume, originated from from Clarence Yard?

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