Whatever happened to the Navy Rum ?

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by Ron Goldstein, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    7 Armoured Brigade issued rum before crossing the wire on 17 November 41. They took one more issue along for later use, although my guess is the Germans drank that at Sidi Rezegh (which would be a fair do, since the RAF bombed their beer issue a week or so before).

    I always liked Stephen Maturin's characterisation of the 'pernicious habit' of the rum issue in foreign waters.

    All the best

  2. tmac

    tmac Senior Member

    On the evening of June 5, 1944, the rum ration was issued to the soldiers of F Troop, 318 Battery, 92nd LAA, who were crossing to Normandy in LCT 408. However, the men of Gun F3 - including my late father Leo McCarthy and his comrade Len Harvey - were too seasick to stomach it.

    Instead, the gunners agreed to put the rum into a jug and keep it safe until they could use it to toast the end of the war. This they did near Bremen when hostilities ceased.

    Unfortunately some of the men, my father included, never got to join in that special toast because they had been wounded or transferred by the war's end.

    So on the morning of June 6, 2008, we symbolically made up for those who had missed out. My brother Tony and I accompanied Len and two other 92nd LAA D-Day veterans - George Baker and Jim Holder-Vale - to Sword Beach at La Breche d'Hermanville, where LCT 408 had landed. And to everyone's delight, Tony produced a bottle of rum and treated us all to a warming glass.

    Pictured, from left, are Len, George and Jim at La Breche.

    Attached Files:

    ritsonvaljos likes this.
  3. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Pussers rum as issued by the RN to its ratings can still be purchased in the UK at various outlets.....Picked up a bottle of blue, 70cl 54.5% alc by vol, recently in Gib main street for £9.

    For junior ratings,the daily ration was served diluted as "grog" until the practice of the daily issue was phased out in the early 1970s

    Incidentally,I thought Nelson was brought home in a barrel of brandy...its always a story revisited when we drink Pussers at home.
  4. beeza

    beeza Senior Member

    To my memory the current Pussers Rum, whilst ok is nothing like the navy rum that I remember (and this is only from doing time with the RN in Singapore). The rum issue was given to

    junior ratings as half water and half rum and the sailors were watched as they drank it. Senior ratings - Chiefs and Petty Officers were given their rum neat. The issue was handed out in

    an open container and taken to the mess where one could collect your tot. Any left over after midday dinner was carefully bottled and became the cause of a rather riotous session when

    three or four bottles were collected.
  5. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Viscountess Astor - 1945:

    I put a Question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day, but it was badly expressed. It looked as if I wanted to save money for the Revenue at the expense of the Navy. That is the last thing I want to do. My aim was to do what I think the present First Lord did when he was previously in office, in regard to the rum ration. He enabled the men in the Navy to choose money instead of the rum. I remember what a fight it was. It is always the same old story of the pride of the working man, of his freedom, and so on. My Question the other day was designed to see whether we could not do something for the officers in the Navy who do not drink, and there are thousands of them. Their numbers are growing every day. I wanted to see whether, instead of the concession which is made to those who drink, there could not be a division of the money which the Chancellor of the Exchequer gains on that drink. I do not know how much it would amount to, but it ought to be done. I do not know if the House realises how difficult it is for married officers to live on what they get. We had an awful time trying to get officers' allowances, and I know that a few shillings would be a great help to them. I do not want to give a wrong impression. I know that the Navy is sober. I know that it is not possible to get very far in the Navy unless one is sober, its requirements are too technical, both for the upper and the lower decks. One has to be very alert and very sober indeed, and the last thing I want to do is to appear to be saying that the Navy is drinking too much. I do not believe it is, but I do not want drinking made easier for anybody, whether in the Navy or out of it. I hope that the First Lord will see—I think it was he who got the rum ration turned into 3½d. a week for the men instead of the rum-

    Not the Lady:

    What is the present source of supply of the rum issued to the Royal Navy? It used to be very good dry rum from British Guiana, but I understand that almost all the vintage stocks were purloined by the Army in World War I and that the Admiralty has never quite caught up with the quality.

    choice of the Royal Navy

    Rum’s association with the Royal Navy first began in 1677 when the Admirality decided to issue an official daily rum ration for all ratings. When the Port Mourant Estate distillery - one of the oldest in the world - was established in 1732, the extra character and depth of the rum from its Double Wooden Pot Still made it the choice of the Royal Navy.

    London Gazette 1867 Rum contracts:

  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Interesting document Wills...good example of RN procurement procedures of yesteryear.

    Obviously the rum could have been procured from many suppliers providing that they could convince the RN that their product complied with a specification which is not defined. Surprisingly no alcohol Proof is specified but this must have been ascertained from the samples and the supplier must have been made aware of this specification.

    So since the rum issue practice terminated,there are many suppliers who claim that their product was formerly supplied to the RN

    Would be supplied in bulk as expected....no question of it being supplied as bottled.

    I would think that the RN procurement procedures of the time would be to ensure that the rum was of a defined quality,distilled from sugar cane and not sourced as the poorest rum is,from molasses or from the refuse of sugar manufacturing.
  7. beeza

    beeza Senior Member

    From what I recall it was sacrilege to dilute that drink with water, it tasted like liquid honey and had a kick like a mule.
  8. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Senior Member

    This came up on one of the endless "name that ship" quizzes on an Italian site, (those guys play rough) is it rum dstribution?.

  9. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Can the same type of rum be purchased today? I'd like to try some that is as close to the WWII version as possible.

    This company says "Pusser’s Blue Label is a Royal Navy style rum inspired by the Admiralty’s blending recipe"

    Pusser's Rum Portfolio - Pusser's Rum Ltd.
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Every ex-matelot I knew in the Pompey area bought Pussers as their nostalgic civilian tot.
    (Woods 100 as second choice, but I never really rated that.)

    Lovely Rum, anyway.
    Burns down then explodes correctly as it hits the stomach, but all in that oddly smooth manner that good dark has.
    Dave55 likes this.
  11. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    'nuff said. Thanks!

    I'll get some to celebrate when and if my tentative job offer is finalized.
  12. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Here in Berlin the Australian and New Zealand Ambassadors always hold a Gunfire Breakfast Buffet at their respective homes on ANZAC Day.
    Pussers Rum is always available
    Dave55 likes this.
  13. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    On Xmas day in 1984 on Mount Kent in the Falkland Islands, I was awoken by the boss bearing a cup of tea with a very strange aftertaste. I only had a one or two more teas that day. Don't really remember anything else of that day. Cant understand why. :)
    Chris C, canuck, SDP and 2 others like this.
  14. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Being in the West Indies Guard Ship in 1979, we were despatched to Tortola for the launch of Pusser's Rum. This was produced to the 'secret' Admiralty recipe. The only difference between Pusser's and the Navy rum was that the recipe allowed for 5% variation to the specifications. Pusser's added a liqueur instead to make the rum slightly smoother. Several years later Pusser's reduced the strength to 42% to make the rum more commercial. However they still produced the Navy Rum at 54.5%, now known as Pusser's Rum Gunpowder Proof. This is the Navy Rum of yesteryear.

  15. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    For those with an abiding interest in rum. Rum for the RN was supplied continuously from it's conception (1784) to it's demise (1970) by the firm of ED&F Man. Whilst they supplied the rum the actual blending to the navy recipe took place in the RN Victualling Yards at Deptford, Portsmouth and Plymouth. It is rumoured, but by no means proven, that Navy rum was 60% Demerara, 30% Trinidad, 10% Australia and Natal with caramel added for colouring.
    Lots more at Home
    What I don't know is whether Army rum was the same as Navy rum. Did the Army blend it's own? Did they get it off the Navy? Or was it just a commercial brand? All I do know is that rum was held in the Supply Reserve Depots prior to issue in gallon jars marked SRD.

    Dave55 likes this.
  16. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    British Navy Pusser's Rum ....The Original Navy Rum since 1655......"The Single Malt of Rum" and the Father of "Grog"

    The rum can be bought at a number of outlets,I once bought a bottle from Iceland,the UK supermarket.

    It can also be bought through Pusser's shop....Home - Pusser's British West Indies, Ltd.

    However I have used this site... Pussers - Gunpowder Proof 54.5% 70cl Bottle - TheDrinkShop.com
    this was the original Blue Label which has been replaced with Gunpowder-proof.....still at 54.5% proof.

    The Royal Navy Sailor's Fund through the "Tot Fund" receives a donation for every bottle of Pusser's sold,an arrangement from when Pusser's was allowed to sell Pusser's commercially.
    timuk likes this.
  17. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Harry Ree and Dave55 like this.
  18. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Hey Tom.....Wot no Ratzputz.....now that is lethal
    Smudger Jnr likes this.
  19. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Was wondering why the blue bottle was cheaper and a dull strength these days.
    Cheers for that, you've saved me a potentially disappointing purchase.
    Got an urge now...
    timuk likes this.
  20. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Bear in mind the pub Imperial measure for spirits was 1/6 gill (at around 40%) and the Navy Tot was 1/2 gill (at around 54.5%). Senior Rates got it neat, Junior Rates watered down at 2:1 ie. nearly half a pint. All for free and Duty free tobacco!
    Slight correction to Post 36. Pusser's Gunpowder Proof is 54.5% ABV not Proof it's Proof strength is around 95%.

    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018

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