A history of the naval toast

A willing foe and searoom

This is well worth reading, and something of a window into the non-politically correct, not to say disgraceful minds of young naval officers of years gone by. Here’s a short sample:

‘It was common that the Loyal Toast be followed at mess dinners by several toasts that had to be formalized and used on a rotating basis, a separate naval toast for each day of the week:

‘On Sunday “To Absent Friends!”, on Monday “To Our Ships at Sea!”,
‘On Tuesday “To Our Men!”, and on Wednesday “To Ourselves!”
‘On Thursday “To A Bloody War or A Sickly Season!”
‘On Friday “To A Willing Foe and Sea Room!”
‘And on Saturday “To Sweethearts and Wives!”‘

They reveal a surprising – to me – interest in having a fight, partly because the British Navy generally expected to win and partly because a good battle could lead to deaths and sickness, which would in turn lead to promotions for some of the younger officers and crew.

And I gather that the toast ‘To Sweethearts and Wives!’ traditionally prompted the scurrilous response ‘May they never meet!’.

PS – I’ve just noticed we’ve just passed 4m hits. Here’s to the next million…

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