What Was the Nickname Given to British Soldiers?

“Tommy Atkins” or “Tommy” is a typical British soldier nickname. Primarily connected with World War I, the phrase has been in usage since the 18th century.

During World War I, French and Commonwealth soldiers called British soldiers “Tommies.” German soldiers would cry “Tommy” to attract the attention of a British soldier across the trenches. In later decades, the term’s usage faded, although “Tom” is still occasionally used to refer to paratroopers.

Unknown is the origin of the nickname. Tommy Atkins is mentioned in a 1743 letter from Jamaica concerning a soldier revolt. According to another theory, the original Tommy Atkins was a British soldier who fought in the American Revolutionary War. In 1815, the War Office used “Tommy Atkins” as a generic name, according to a second interpretation.


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