July 31, 1970 marked the last day that the British Imperial Navy would serve daily rum rations (or tots) to their sailors.
In the 17th century, British sailors were given a gallon of beer as their daily drink ration, which was replaced with a half pint of rum in 1655 due to storage issues. Drunkenness among sailors on board Navy ships became a problem, and naval regulations in 1740 called for the pint of rum to be cut with water.
In December of 1969, the Admiralty Board issued a statement that read: “the rum issue is no longer compatible with the high standards of efficiency required now that the individual’s tasks in ships are concerned with complex, and often delicate, machinery and systems on the correct functioning of which people’s lives may depend”.
July 31, 1970 was the end of the rum ration, and sailors mourned their loss with black armbands and mock funerals.