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Lt. Melvill: Well done, Sir! Did you see that Noggs? Deceived him with the up and took him with the down. Norris-Newman: Well well, this one's a grandfather at least. If he'd been a Zulu in his prime I'd have given odds against your lancer, Mr.Melvill.
 
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Lt. (Brevet Major) J.R.M. Chard, 5th Field Company, Royal Engineers--Rorke's Drift and Ulundi
(Mac and Shad) Isandula Collection)
Rededication Rorke's Drift Defender William Wilcox. 8th May 2011 Dolton Devon.
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 'Tommy Atkins'

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prm502



Posts : 30
Join date : 2009-09-29

PostSubject: 'Tommy Atkins'   Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:04 pm

I've always wondered about the origins of this phrase, and whether it applied to just the 'English' or to the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish as well. And if 'Tommy Atkins' was the stereotypical 'English soldier', what were the values/attributes attached to the stereotypical 'Irish' soldier in particular during the period? I would be interested to hear your opinions :)
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joe

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Join date : 2010-01-07
Location : UK

PostSubject: Re: 'Tommy Atkins'   Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:27 pm

hi
the term 'tommy atkins' or usually just 'tommy' is (i think) any british soldier, but is usually uses towards and english soldier. i think it is also used more with welsh and irish, but not so much scottish

check out the wikipedia page

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thanks joe
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John

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Age : 55
Location : UK

PostSubject: Re: 'Tommy Atkins'   Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:42 pm

Tommy Atkins a name for the typical private soldier in the British army; deriving from the casual use of Thomas Atkins in the specimen forms given in official regulations from 1815 onwards; although other names were also used, Thomas Atkins became best known as used in all forms for privates in the cavalry and infantry.
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prm502



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PostSubject: Re: 'Tommy Atkins'   Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:18 am

This is all very interesting...John Laffin suggests that the term was first used in 1743 in a letter sent from Jamaica, but as to the reliability of this citation, I'm not sure. Its all fascinating because of the Irish attitude towards the war. It would appear that the general consensus was that the war was a terrible idea; 'The Flag of Ireland' published precisely the numbers of Irish soldiers in the various regiments sent to the Cape in 1879 - a critique, one might suspect, of Irish complicity - and much of the nationalist press came down heavily on the side of the Zulus (for instance the 'Chant for the Zulus' poem reproduced during the period of Zulu success in the early spring of 1879). I wonder therefore whether the Irish soldiers who fought were derided back at home for doing so? And if so, would the term 'Tommy Atkins' mean something completely different in Ireland than in England?
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