"Tommy Atkins," or "Tommy," is one common nickname for British soldiers. The term is associated with World War I in particular, but was used as early as the 18th century.Continue Reading
During World War I, French and Commonwealth troops referred to British soldiers as "Tommies." German soldiers would shout ���Tommy��� across the trenches to get the attention of a British soldier. Use of the term declined in subsequent decades, although ���Tom��� is sometimes still heard in reference to paratroopers.
The origin of the nickname is uncertain. A letter from Jamaica in 1743, which was about a troop mutiny, refers to Tommy Atkins. Another theory says that the original Tommy Atkins was a British solider in the American Revolutionary War. A further explanation holds that the term came into common use when the War Office chose ���Tommy Atkins��� as a generic name in 1815.Learn more about Modern Europe