On Saturday 10 August, the Due North Rum Club graciously invited me to the Prince Alfred’s Guards Headquarters in Central to celebrate their Christmas Lunch, which was also held to mourn the passing of the Black Tot.
Black Tot Day (31 July 1970) is the name given to the last day on which the Royal Navy issued sailors with a daily rum ration (the daily tot). The final rum ration was poured as usual at 6 bells in the forenoon watch (11am) after the pipe of ‘up spirits’. Some sailors wore black armbands, tots were ‘buried at sea’ and in one navy training camp there was a mock funeral procession complete with black coffin and accompanying drummers and piper. As can be expected the move was not popular with the ratings despite an extra can of beer being added to the daily rations in compensation.
Saturday’s mourning of the passing of the tot took place in the form of a formal dinner in convivial company. Attended by 13 members of the Due North Rum Club in Keith Adams, Frank Atkinson, Grant Britton, Greg Britton, Garth Daniels, Donald Dye, Roy Farr, Volker Mueller, Warwick Owen, John Scott, Gerald Smith, Ray Thompson, Pierre van Deventer with guests Neville Ross and yours truly the ‘mourners’ gathered in the NCO’s mess of the PAG from 12:00 noon.
Those who have been to formal dinners in the army will well remember the pomp and ceremony attached thereto. My memories are a bit hazy as some of them