Veterans and tourists mark Royal Navy tradition on Black Tot Day

IT WAS the beloved maritime tradition that was axed during the modernising of the Royal Navy.

Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 5:27 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 6:22 pm
A shot of Pusser's Rum is poured on HMS Belfast as part of Black Tot Day. Photo: RNRMC

But yesterday, veterans and tourists alike were called to ‘up spirits’ and mark the 49th anniversary of Black Tot Day.

The date commemorates the last official rum ration issued to sailors way back on July 31, 1970 – the poignant end of a 300-year tradition.

Ceremonies were held on HMS Belfast, in London, and HMS Warrior at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

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Veterans drinking their 'tot' of rum on HMS Belfast in London to mark Black Tot Day. Photo: RNRMC

And in true spirit of the day, all those joining in the celebrations were able to take a ‘tot’ of Pusser’s Rum.

In London, members of the Portsmouth-based military group the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity hosted a day for veterans on Belfast.

As well as giving former sailors and Marines a chance to share old sea tales, it also to give guidance to those experiencing loneliness of isolation.

Alasdair Akass, director of marketing and fundraising at the RNRMC, said: ‘When you stop to consider the huge numbers of beneficiaries the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity is here to support – every sailor, marine and their families for life, probably about three quarters of a million – then it is likely that there are a significant number who need our support but are unaware of the help that exists for them or are reluctant to ask for help.’

Rum rations were introduced into the navy in 1655 as a substitute for beer.

Sailors would get one eighth of a pint of rum, watered down with two measures of water.