31 Jul: The Great Rum Debate

The Royal Navy were issued with their final daily ration of rum – ending a tradition of more than 300 years – on July 31, 1970. The day became known as ‘Black Tot Day’.

The demise of the long-standing tradition was mainly due to safety concerns, following fears surrounding the more complex technology now in operation across the Navy. To show their disappointment, some sailors wore black armbands.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly trace back the origins of this quaint custom; explain why spirits had taken the place of beer on boats; and marvel at footage of sailors who were clearly ‘pissed, in both senses of the word’… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Black Tot Day: rum rations for sailors abolished 45 years ago today’ (Daily Telegraph, 2015): https://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/10210966/What-became-of-the-drunken-sailor.html

• ‘Black Tot Day: The end of the rum ration’ (Forces Net, 2022): https://www.forces.net/services/navy/black-tot-day-end-rum-ration

• ‘Black Tot Day (End of the Royal Navy Rum Ration)’ (ITN, 1970):

#70s #War #Strange #Food