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ORIGIN OF ‘TOMMY ATKINS'

A version of the origin of the British eoV dier’s nickname, supplied by Mr Arthur MeP cer iu a letter t° The Times/ differs aiioj pother from the one given by the V tear c. Bradford. The name dates, aecoromg to 3» Mercer, not from the a:mo of V\ clUngtou, but from the Indian Mutiny. When thn rebciliou broke out in Lui-Jcnow <lll the Europeans iled to tiro Residency. “On their tray they came upon a private of the 32nd Regiment fDnhe of Cornwall’s Light Infantry) on sentry' at an outpost. They urged bun to make bis escape with them, but he would not do so, and was killed. His name happened to be Thomas Atkins, and eo throughnut ' the mutiny campaign, when a daring deed vvm done, the doer was said to bo ‘a regular Tommy Atkins.’” We are unable to decide which of these atones is the true one. and the suspicion will obtrude Itself that both may be apocryphal. But neither gives any warrant for the attitude of those wh* sent the application of the nickname to our to’dkrs. If either story »*• true, it was the name of a hero. Moreover, the use of the familiar sobriquet “ Tommy" conforms to the English 1# ibit of making a fond mockery of the people and the qualities of which we are most proud. It is, besides, an apt nickname for the new type of British soldier this war ha* produced—the soldier who christens the German siege guns “Jack Johnsons,” finds mental leisure in the trenches for an eager interest in the football news from home, and while agreeing to be teetotal because Kitchener want* him to, expresses a determination to take it out of the Germane who have made this abstinence aecemaiy.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141212.2.60

Bibliographic details

ORIGIN OF ‘TOMMY ATKINS', Evening Star, Issue 15674, 12 December 1914

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297

ORIGIN OF ‘TOMMY ATKINS' Evening Star, Issue 15674, 12 December 1914

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