Tommy Atkins and other nicknames

A long established nickname for a British soldier has been Tommy Atkins or Tommy for short. The origins are obscure but most probably derive from a specimen army form circulated by the Adjutant-General Sir Harry Calvert to all units in 1815 where the blanks had been filled in with the particulars of a Private Thomas Atkins, No 6 Company, 23rd Regiment of Foot. German soldiers in both World Wars would usually refer to their British opponents as Tommys. Present- day British soldiers are often referred to as Toms or just Tom. Outside the services soldiers are generally known as squaddies by the British popular press. The British Army magazine Soldier has a regular cartoon strip, Tom, featuring the everyday life of a British soldier.

Another nickname which applies only to soldiers in Scottish regiments is Jocks, derived from the fact that in Scotland the common Christian name John is often changed to Jock in the vernacular. Welsh soldiers are occasionally referred to asTaffy or just Taff. This most likely only applies to those from the Taff-Ely Valley in South Wales, where a large portion of men, left unemployed from the decline of the coal industry in the area, enlisted during WW I and II. Of course it might also be a vernacular form of Dave or Davey, the patron Saint of Wales being Saint David. Irish soldiers are referred to as Paddys or Micks, this from the days when many Irish recruits had the name Patrick or Michael.

Junior officers in the army are generally known as Ruperts by the Other ranks. This nickname is believed to be derived from the children's comic book character Rupert Bear who epitomizes traditional public school values.

The term Pongo, as in "where the army goes, the pong goes", or Perce is often used by Sailors and Royal Marines to refer to soldiers. It is not considered complimentary.

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