Service Rum last issued ?

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#1
from the darkest corners of Marlborough Lines....

I write about drinks. I’m doing a piece on rum for Restaurant magazine. It’s a field I’m fairly expert in, but I have never been able to get to the bottom of the rum ration that used to be made to British soldiers as opposed to sailors. Notably: was the rum the same as navy rum (54.6% ABV), drunk diluted 2:1? Which ranks received it? Was the ration made to all soldiers even those in UK barracks, or only those in war zones? When did it cease? And, if possible, where was the rum sourced? I need the info urgently
The Naval tot finished in 1970....and if I recall it was sourced in Jamaica....whilst many accounts of WW1 mention the Army rum issue, was service Rum available to those ashore on Op Corporate ?

be interested to know from anyone with an authoritative source for this ?

Don (hic) Cabra
 
#2
A mate of mine (17/21 Lancers) reckoned to have been issued rum whilst on excercise in Der Vaterland during the 70s due to the extreme weather conditions.

Not sure if I believe it to be true.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#4
Yup....anticipate random Army Urban Legend dits galore, not least how it was the gallon jars of Service Rum that caused the Donnington fire........howsomeever...Nota Bene:
some random ould josser said:
anyone with an authoritative source for this ?
( 9 dark-rum-and-limes later I couldn't even speak, let alone say her name...)
 
#5
Don't know about the Army issue Don, other than it was still in place during the first ww for sure. On a possible note of interest to you despite the "daily Grog issue" being dead the RN en masse still do a rum issue to "splice the mainbrace" also during arduous conditions the RM issue rum (more as a tradition during training evolutions rather than getting the lads rummed up to "go over the top") 42 Cdo RM did it after a church service the day before the start of Telic.


PS I have just found out the TA do it with Brasso:thumright:
 
#6
In 1966-69 rum was issued to snow clearance teams at RAF Troodos in Cyprus but only if the temp dropped to a specified level. The main problem was to get it out of the demijohn at that temp. It had the viscosity of honey and the trick was to take a mouthfull out of a bottle of Coke and then refill with rum - let it dissolve in the Coke and then use it as personal antifreeze. It came in wicker covered demijohns and it was best not to mix them up with battery acid which came in similar, but bigger, jugs! The RE clearance team were good enough to share with our blue light patrols which flew cover for them. There was also an emergency bottle of whisky kept in the RAF Plod Duty Room at the top of Mount Olympus. Only used it once. It was lovely over an icicle broken off the guttering!
 
#7
I recall a rum issue to sub-units from the QM in both Germany (c.1984) and UK (c.1991), both on long ftx' in cold weather. I vaguely recall it was Lambs Navy Rum in normal bottles, and that the official "shot" was quite small. Maybe the "shot" was calculated to be issued as grog at the official mix ratio with an equal amount of water added? I do recall that the UK unit had deployed at about 30% manpower, which combined with the abstainers and drivers, meant that the "shot" for the rest of us was about half a mug of neat rum (OC: "water is to be saved for shaving and cooking, etc, Er, cough"...)
 
#8
Was issued it whilst training 23 SAS on .50 cal HMG and GPMGSF in Jordan in 2008. Whether it was through the correct channels though is another matter. The RQMS had shit loads though.
 
#9
The last official R.N. tot issue took place on Friday 31 July 1970. Navy rum was imported from The West Indies, mainly from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad. Rum was imported in oak casks by E D & F Man & Co. The company held the contract from 1784 until 1970.
 
#10
I recall a rum issue to sub-units from the QM in both Germany (c.1984) and UK (c.1991), both on long ftx' in cold weather. I vaguely recall it was Lambs Navy Rum in normal bottles,
I was on an ex in the UK in the late 80s when the CO declared "arduous conditions". We were issued with Lambs Navy rum.

In Gibraltar, in the 70's, the local bars sold navy issue rum. Apparently there were huge stocks left in the navy dockyard when the Navy ceased its rum ration. Most of it was flogged off to the local bars...and very nice it was too.

My first taste of pusser's rum in Gib saw me complete the last part of the walk back to South barracks on my hands and knees...

:)

Rodney2q
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#11
Lovely stuff gents - keep it coming....anyone able to produce a document concerning Issue of Service rum in arduous conditions?

I suspect the Lambs Navy rum dished up to 4(T) and his gang was locally sourced rather than 'Issue' . Perhaps Stacker1 can investigate which store last held demijohns of Service rum in the UK....

I have slapped together a short Arrsepedia dit from Googled material

Royal Navy rum - ARRSEpedia

The ARMY experience is lacking.....and I will bring a bottle of Pussers 'neaters' to the Salisbury crawl if it goes ahead.
 
#12
If you've got deep pockets:

[TABLE]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD="colspan: 4"][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD="colspan: 4"][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[TD="width: 35%"]Black Tot Last Consignment / Royal Naval Rum
[/TD]
[TD="width: 4%"][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[TD="colspan: 3"] 70cl / 54.3%[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[TD="colspan: 3"] Bottled from the Last Consignment of stock of Royal Naval Rum, which had been hidden in storage since Black Tot Day in 1970 - when the official rations ceased - Black Tot is a true piece of rum (and naval) history.
Rumfest Golden Rum Barrel Awards 2010: Best European Rum [/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[TD="colspan: 3"][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
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[TD="width: 2%"][/TD]
[TD="colspan: 2"]£610.00 inc.VAT (£508.33 ex. VAT)[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]
 
#13
Was issued it whilst training 23 SAS on .50 cal HMG and GPMGSF in Jordan in 2008. Whether it was through the correct channels though is another matter. The RQMS had shit loads though.
As an attached rank in the late 80's whenever I went "away" with a "Them" sqn you would be given a rum ration. Justified I was told because you were going to A hazardous and/or dangerous area.

You'd be given a Bottle Rum in place of a tot.
 
#15
I also was on the receiving end of the issue stuff, early 80s on Soltau, troop training, the Canadians we were training with got called in as it was too cold, what did we in the Cav get?...blankets GS and a compo can with one of those plastic caps on filled with rum.
Due to the low temp your lips stuck to the outside of the can...yeah I know we could have decanted it but we CBA'd also no one told us it should have been diluted until the next day.....and so began my love affair with dark rum....
 
#16
Lovely stuff gents - keep it coming....anyone able to produce a document concerning Issue of Service rum in arduous conditions?

I suspect the Lambs Navy rum dished up to 4(T) and his gang was locally sourced rather than 'Issue' . Perhaps Stacker1 can investigate which store last held demijohns of Service rum in the UK....

I have slapped together a short Arrsepedia dit from Googled material

Royal Navy rum - ARRSEpedia

The ARMY experience is lacking.....and I will bring a bottle of Pussers 'neaters' to the Salisbury crawl if it goes ahead.

IIRC the Lambs Navy Rum is/was a ration issue, and is/was available on demand through the ration system. I've heard - although someone would have to check - that its also still available as an issue item in the RAMC system.


The last Navy daily ration issue of grog might have been issued in 1970, but they still splice the mainbrace on significant occasions. As a cadet, I was on the Silver Jubilee Fleet review on HMS Kent - they issued grog that day, and I think they've done it several times since.
 
#17
This is to some extent hearsay, but my impression was that there was an official sopurce of rum that was issued to both army and RAF on the authority of the CO when particularly arduous - usually cold - conditions prevailed. I was told by the CSRO at the Air Nav School that it had occasionally been issued on combat survival exercises in the 1970s and I remember the MTO of 3 Regt AAC requesting an issue when the Reg was on ex at Otterburn - the FARP was set up on that windy hilltop external gun position place and it was bitterly cold. That was about 1995. To honest, I can't remember if it was authorised.
 
#19
The only thing I could find was in JSP 456, Chapter 4 (UNCLAS)

0527. Splice the Mainbrace. The order ‘Splice the Mainbrace’ authorises the issue of 62.5ml of
commercial spirit to all entitled personnel over the age of 18. In the event that insufficient
commercial spirit is available, one 500ml can of beer may be issued in lieu. Personnel under 18
years of age, and those who do not desire the spirit ration, may receive a soft drink in lieu. Under
no circumstance is any cash payment to be made. The order ‘Splice the Main Brace’ may be given
only by:

a. Her Majesty the Queen or members of the Royal Family.
b. The Admiralty Board on special occasions of celebration or national rejoicing.
c. Governor Generals when acting as Viceroy to Her Majesty the Queen.

0528. Accounting. Supplies of spirit and beer are to be obtained from the Unit Contractor.
Issues are to be recorded on a manuscript certificate signed by the CO, which should contain the
following information:

a. Occasion of issue.
b. Authority.
c. Number of entitled personnel as authorised by signal.
d. Quantities issued.

This certificate (see JSP 456 Volume 2 Chapter 6 Annex A) is to be retained with the DFS Crown
Account for audit to support the claim for each Trading Period.
So it would appear it can be ordered in if required.

It sadly makes no mention for the Army though, which seems unfair - where is my free booze, damnit! :)

Earlier on, it does say:

0503. Drinks Supplement. During exceptionally adverse weather conditions and out-ofbarracks
military training days i.e. Ranges, in excess of 4 hours, the CO may authorise the issue of
hot/cold drinks, to a maximum of 6 drinks per person in any 24 hour period ie 1 drink within a 4
hour period. The CO may delegate this authority to the Executive or other Senior Officer. The
supplement may also be authorised by COs for issue to MoD Fire Brigades when fighting fires for a
prolonged period. The Drinks Supplement, published by the DFS Team, is to be claimed only for
drinks actually issued and not used to improve the overall status of the catering account. A
certificate (see JSP 456 Volume 2 Chapter 6 Annex B) is to be authorised by the CO or Delegated
Officer, which is to be retained with the DFS Crown Account for audit to support the claim for each
Trading Period. Issues of hot/cold drinks are not to be authorised as a matter of course for
duty personnel, night guards, security patrols etc.
Cunningly, it does not specify what sort of drink may be authorised - I bet some wily QM out there has tried for rum in the past though!

I suspect the DS answer will be in the older versions of JSP 456 - or the document that preceded it. Where's an RLC Food Officer when you need one? :)

http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/8D67FB51-CB36-42ED-9FCC-9016298BC22B/0/JSP456_Vol4_Ch5.pdf
 

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