Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Black Tot Day

Today (31 July) is Black Tot Day. 

On this day 49 years ago – on 31 July 1970 – the last Rum Rations were served to sailors – so this day was observed as Black Tot Day 

On 31 July 1970  the Royal Navy Stopped the Daily Tot of Rum for all serving Naval Personnel. 
This Naval Tradition had been around since 1667. 
It was a sad day for sailors. 
On December 17, 1969 the Admiralty Board issued a written answer to a question from the MP for Woolwich East, Christopher Mayhew saying: 
"The Admiralty Board concludes that the rum issue is no longer compatible with the high standards of efficiency required now that the individual's tasks in ships are concerned with complex, and often delicate, machinery and systems on the correct functioning of which people's lives may depend". 
This led to a debate in the House of Commons on the evening of January 28, 1970, now referred to as the 'Great Rum Debate', started by James Wellbeloved, MP for Erith and Crayford, who believed that the rum ration should not be removed. 
The debate lasted an hour and 15 minutes and closed at 10:29 PM with a decision that the rum ration was no longer appropriate.
July 31, 1970 was the final day of the rum ration and it was poured as usual at 6 bells in the forenoon watch (11 AM) after the pipe of 'up spirits'
Some sailors wore black armbands, tots were 'buried at sea' and in one Navy Stone Frigate (Shore Based Training Establishment), HMS Collingwood, the Royal Naval Electrical College at Fareham in Hampshire there was a mock funeral procession complete with black coffin and accompanying drummers and piper. 
The move was not popular with the ratings despite an extra can of beer being added to the daily rations in compensation. 

Dear Reader: 

If you want to know more about the genesis and history of Rum Rations in the Navy, please read my article on Rum Rations in the Navy at url: 

Wish you a sober Black Tot Day.

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