We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Who is Tommy Atkins?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The name “Tommy Atkins” is used to refer to any British soldier, sort of like “John Doe” is an average, anonymous sort of person in many English-speaking countries. In the modern British military, Tommy Atkins is usually shortened to just “Tom,” and it is in more common use in some service branches than others. The origins of Tommy Atkins are a bit obscure, and numerous theories have been posited to explain why this name has become so closely associated with the common military man in British culture.

The first recorded use of “Tommy Atkins” to refer generically to soldiers dates to the mid-1700s, when a plantation owner in the Caribbean reported back on the performance of a group of soldiers assigned to him. By 1815, “Tommy Atkins” had also become a common figure in military handbooks, being used as an example for various situations, much like Jane Doe stands in as an example in hypothetical situations in many American courtrooms.

Some people have suggested that Tommy Atkins is named for a soldier observed in battle by the Duke of Wellington. Although the original Thomas Atkins supposedly died shortly after meeting the Duke, he allegedly claimed to be undistressed by his death because it was “all in a day's work,” impressing the Duke with his bravery and commitment to duty. More likely, the name was simply a good pseudonymous fit for a generic soldier.

Whatever the origins, Tommy Atkins became popularized in 1892, in Rudyard Kipling's poem, “Tommy.” The poem launched the name into popular culture, and by the First World War, British soldiers were being referred to as Tommies both by themselves, and by the enemy. Famously, the Germans used to shout out “hey Tommy” across the lines in the trenches to attract the attention of bored British soldiers.

Upon their return from the war, the Tommies found themselves treated with respect, reverence, and appreciation by the British people, and they began to bear the nickname with a badge of pride. Military service often creates feelings of camaraderie and pride in those who participate, and some may have appreciated the idea of being treated as a collective entity which had worked to protect Britain. By being given a nickname which could be used to refer to anyone, British soldiers were reminded of their commonalities, which spanned class, religion, and politics.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.