Snippets

A newspaper cutting from the WEST KENT GUARDIAN Newspaper dated 1 August, 1846

 

The Old Superb

 

The wind was rising Easterly, the morning sky was blue,

The Straits before us opened wide and free.

We looked towards the Admiral, where the high Peter flew,

And all our hearts were dancing like the sea.

The French have gone to Martinique with four and twenty sail;

The Old Superb is old and foul and slow,

But the French are gone to Martinique, and Nelson's on the trail,

And where he goes, the Old Superb must go.

 

So Westward Ho! for Trinidad and Eastward Ho! for Spain,

And "Ship Ahoy !" a hundred times a day;

Round the world if need be, and round the world again,

With lame duck lagging all the way.

 

The Old Superb was barnacled and green as grass below,

Her sticks were only fit for stirring grog.

The pride of all her Midshipmen was silent long ago,

And long ago they ceased to heave the log.

Four year out from home she was and ne'er a week in port,

And nothing save the guns aboard; her bright;

But Captain Keats, he knew the game, and swore to share the sport,

For he never came in too late to fight. S

 

So Westward Ho! for Trinidad and Eastward Ho! for Spain,

And "Ship Ahoy !" a hundred times a day;

Round the world if need be, and round the world again,

With lame duck lagging all the way.

 

"Now up, my lads" the Captain cried, "For sure the case was hard -

If longest out, were first to fall behind.

Aloft, aloft, with studding sails and lash them to the yard,

For night and day the Trades are driving blind".

So all day long and all day long, behind the Fleet we crept,

And how we fretted, none but Nelson guessed;

But every night the Old Superb she sailed when others slept,

Till we ran the French to earth with all the rest.

 

So Westward Ho! for Trinidad and Eastward Ho! for Spain,

And "Ship Ahoy !" a hundred times a day;

Round the world if need be, and round the world again,

With lame duck lagging all the way.

 

Sir Henry Newbolt 1862 - 1938

 

 

For 300 years from around 1640 until that fateful day in July, 1970 the British Royal Navy issued a daily rum ration to all sailors.  This daily allotment was known as a "tot" and its issue and the ritual that went with it was one of the longest traditions in the Royal Navy.

 

Known by the navy as "A tot of Pussers" it was issued by the Ship's Purser or "Pusser" and was unique in that even up to its demise in 1970 it had been distilled in the same wooden barrels that supplied the Admiralty's rum since the days of Nelson.

 

The rum was issued to the men "neat" that is to say undiluted and the ration is said to have been half a pint twice daily which obviously led to men being drunk and incapable because of it. But this was to change.

 

On 21st August, 1740 the Commander-in-Chief West Indies, Admiral Vernon whom throughout his career, had tried to improve naval procedures and encouraged his captains to improve manoeuvres and gun drill. He introduced new instructions to aid the flexibility of handling fleets in battle and formed the basis of continuing improvement to Admiralty fighting instructions by subsequent naval commanders.

 

On this day in August he secured a claim to fame and a place in British naval history with his order that his sailors' rum should be diluted with water.

 

In 1740, citrus juice (usually lemon or lime juice) was added to the recipe of the traditional daily ration of watered-down rum known to cut down on the water's foulness. Although they did not know the reason at the time, Admiral Edward Vernon's sailors were healthier than the rest of the navy, due to the daily doses of vitamin C the sailors received.

 

However, it was not until 1747 that it was formally proved that scurvy could be treated and prevented by supplementing the diet with citrus fruit such as limes or lemons. The rest of the Royal Navy rapidly followed Vernon's lead, calling the new drink "grog" after Vernon's nickname "Old Grog", attributed to his habitual wearing of a grogram coat. The tradition of a provision to each seaman of a tot of rum per day continued until "Black Tot Day" on 31 July 1970 when the last pipe of "Up Spirits" was heard throughout the ships and shore establishments of the Royal Navy.

 

However, members of our Association still have the ability to drink a tot at each reunion - could that be a good reason to become a member ?

 

 

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