Military => Camps & Barracks => Topic started by: rochester1 on February 16, 2012, 20:25:06

Title: Drunken Incident
Post by: rochester1 on February 16, 2012, 20:25:06
Here is something else on the Naval side of 19th century Kent.
From a newspaper cutting;

"The following shocking incident occured at Sheerness last week. An intoxicated sailor, having been put to bed and the door fastened on the outside, leapt from the window and broke both of his legs. Surgical assistance was called and three men sat up with him all night. Unfortunately they fell asleep and the sailor unaware of the operation he had undergone, undid his bandages and bled to death."
Title: Re: Drunken Incident
Post by: Leofwine on February 16, 2012, 23:03:13
I think now he might get nominated for a Darwin award! An interesting (and sobering) story though.

Do you happen to have a date or newspaper name for that one?
Title: Re: Drunken Incident
Post by: HERB COLLECTOR on July 23, 2018, 15:39:14
Another pair of possible recipients for a Darwin Award.

Bluejackets' Debauch at Sheerness.
An inquest was held at Sheerness touching the death of Gunner John Balls and William Shipley, of the Royal Marine Artillery, serving on H.M.S. Sans Pareil, the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief at the Nore. The evidence showed that the two men were working in the cockpit stacking rum in the spirit room. There was a sentry over the room, but during the absence of the officer in charge who had other duties to perform, the two men must have obtained access to the rum, as they were found lying in a helpless condition outside the spirit room door later. The sentry stated that he saw nothing, but Lieutenant Lambert informed the jury that seven pints of rum were missing from the store. Staff-Surgeon Ottley deposed that death was due to alcoholic poison through excessive drinking, and a verdict to that effect was returned by the jury.
     From The Cardigan Observer, Saturday, March 6 1897.
Title: Re: Drunken Incident
Post by: smiffy on July 23, 2018, 20:19:31
Just a quick calculation - the recommended intake of alcohol for an adult is 14 units per week. Assuming modern alcoholic strengths (Naval rum was probably much stronger stuff) the amount consumed by these two men in a few hours amounted to at least 280 units!
Title: Re: Drunken Incident
Post by: Bilgerat on July 28, 2018, 21:28:54
Rum, like all modern-day spirits (apart from Absinthe) is restricted to 40% Alcohol By Volume (ABV). Amongst the artifacts recovered from the wreck of HMS Invincible (74), built in 1765 and wrecked off the Norfolk coast in 1801 were intact barrels of rum, which when tested, were found to be over 70% ABV.
Title: Re: Drunken Incident
Post by: smiffy on July 29, 2018, 01:41:22
I wonder if it would be possible to actually test this stuff (i.e. take a swig) or was it made undrinkable through salt water incursion?

As for the strength, this would mean that the amount consumed in this incident was the equivalent of at least 70 pints of strong beer per man!
Title: Re: Drunken Incident
Post by: Bilgerat on July 29, 2018, 09:24:19
As for the strength, this would mean that the amount consumed in this incident was the equivalent of at least 70 pints of strong beer per man!

No wonder they died! The biggest cause of death in the Royal Navy during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (apart from disease) was accidents. Not suprising when you consider that each seaman was issued in home waters with a gallon of so-called small beer (about 2% ABV) and a pint of grog (rum, watered down 50/50). This means that every man was consuming the modern equivalent of half a litre of rum and 4 pints of beer every day!
Title: Re: Drunken Incident
Post by: MartinR on July 30, 2018, 22:59:59
Sorry Bilgerat, but that's half a pint of rum, not half a litre.  The old standard spirit measure was 1/6 gill, so half a pint would be 6 doubles.  Taking a double as about a pint, that's 10 pints a day, but of course for men who were both used to it and performing hard physical labour.  You couldn't drive a car but I doubt that they would be drunk (which was a serious offence).  Also, not all spirits are limited to 40%, for instance my bottle of Bruichladdich is 46% and the Talisker is 45.8%.
Title: Re: Drunken Incident
Post by: Bilgerat on August 01, 2018, 11:02:36
Fair point but I'm not about to be pedantic. I mentioned that the sample of rum recovered from HMS Invincible was about 70% ABV and assuming that to be representative, means that late 18th C naval rum was about twice as strong as the modern stuff (give or take). Being issued a pint of grog watered down 50/50 (so equivalent to a half-pint of the stuff) and with it being almost twice as strong means they were given the equivalent of about a pint of the modern stuff every day, or about half a litre (a pint being 0.57 litres).

Those figures were true in the late 18th/early 19th centuries. Thats not to say that the rum on issue when the incident occurred was weaker or stronger than the stuff recovered from HMS Invincible.