Royal Navy Pay and Conditions

Up Spirits
Grog - or the Rum Ration

  • Rum ration halved to one eighth of a pint: (a gill) of rum to water ratio 1:3
  • Petty Officers and above receive their rum neat

  • 1850 
  • Grog money introduced to teetotallers at a rate of 1 shilling and 7 pennies per month

  • 1919 
  • Grog Money increased to 3d per day

  • 1937 
  • Ratio of Rum to water reduced to 1:2

  • 1970   
  • Rum Ration abolished 31 July 1970

  • UA 
  • Under Age ie a rating who was under 20 years of age and not entitled to a grog ration

  • Splicing the main brace 
  • An additional ration of rum awarded on special occasions or on the completion of a hazardous operation

  • Grog Money 
  • Paid in lieu of receiving grog (rum)

  • A sailor's fairwell to his tot   
  • A matelot's fairwell to his tot  Apologies for the condition - its followed me around in my kit bag!!

  • Personal observations

    Although we go misty eyed at the thought of the "tot" there is no doubt that rum ration was a contributing factor to a considerable amount of "ill discipline" in the Royal Navy and it was perhaps the cause (directly and indirectly) of more major punishments than any other single factor: I know that many WRNS didn't relish the antics of their male colleagues p.m.

    It did, however, have its compensating factors ie when food was poor it made it palatable and when the messdeck was damp and noisy and smelt foul you could be sure of a good afternoon's kip after completing a Middle Watch

    The main problem with grog, in my humble opinion, was that many didn't drink all their tot all the time and used to pass it around the mess as "sippers" for the hardened core of drinkers and "grog money" was worth so little that it wasn't worth claiming in lieu.

    In addition, many favours could be obtained with the "tot", in so much, that it became a form of currency ie "sippers", "gulpers", "three fingers" and a "tot" all had value in an ad hoc world of bargaining perhaps where someone would cover for someone else at a "muster of hands" or someone would carry out another task in exchange! It was surprising what lengths a "hardened bubbly rat" would go to obtain more than his daily ration of "grog".

    In senior rates messes it became quite common for those who didn't care to take their neat tot every day to bottle it and after a period of time one could accumulate quite large quantities. I went on some ships where the senior rates messes had bottled the stuff and sealed it in proper rum jars that pusser no longer required and were saving it for special occasions! Some occasions!!

    In later years the tot was often issued at the end of the working day, rather than at the traditional time of "Up Spirits" ie 1130-1200, for those working with machinery, such as flight crews and maintainers etc!

    ^ back to top ^