Tommy Atkins


The term 'Tommy Atkins' is now familiarly applied to the common soldier in the trenches during World War Two but the origin can be traced back as far as 1745 when a letter was sent from Jamaica concerning a mutiny amongst the troops in which iit was mentioned that 'Tommy Atkins behaved splendidly'. According to Lieutenant General Sir William MacArthur, in an article in the Army Medical Services Magazine (circa 1950), 'Tommy Atkins' was chosen as a generic name by the War Office in 1815.


Richard Holmes, in the prologue to Tommy (2005), states that in 1815 a War Office publication showing how the Soldier's Pocket Book should be filled out gave as its example one Private Thomas Atkins, No. 6 Troop, 6th Dragoons. Atkins became a sergeant in the 1837 version.


Rudyard Kipling referred to Tommy in his poems and during the late Victorian period a series of articles appeared in Navy and Army Illustrated commencing in June 1898 with The Domestic Life of Tommy Atkins. The author gave an insight into the life of an ordinary soldier during the late Victorian period. This article was the basis for a contribution to the journal of The Palmerston Forts Society which explored connections with the Victorian Forts. Another article followed on Tommy Atkins Married with a further one on Tommy Atkin's Chrismas Dinner. Two more articles yet to be published are Tommy Atkins in Hospital and Tommy Atkins at Play. They are reproduced below to assist with persons researching the life of their ancestors who have served in or had connections with the Victorian forts. Thanks to Duncan Williams of the PFS.


Domestic Life of Tommy Atkins

Domestic Life of Tommy Atkins Domestic Life of Tommy Atkins Domestic Life of Tommy Atkins Domestic Life of Tommy Atkins

The Domestic Life of Tommy Atkins

Tommy Atkins


Tommy Atkin's Christmas Dinner

Tommy Atkins

in Hospital

Tommy Atkins

at Play