Nicknames

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Re: Nicknames

Postby jf42 » 27 Jan 2015 11:05

I think the story of Welington and the dying soldier of the 33rd is apocryphal. I recall having read that the term in fact can be found much earlier in the C18th. On the move so can't provide detail.

'Jock' as a popular term dates from the C19th century. It is more of a Lowland epithet- it is really just a Scots version of John, comparable to 'Jack'. (although that usage itself became more common as the century wore on. The man in the sun helmet to the right of this post, born in Fife in 1849, was known as 'Jack' in his family).

There are referrences to Highlanders as 'Geordies'. The 93rd Sutherland Highlanders were nicknamed 'Rories' (Gaelic: Ruiraidh)

'Jock' as a general term for a private soldier of a Scottish regiment equivalent to 'Squaddie, may, I think, have developed even later, in the C20th. Certainly, that became the practice in the Black Watch as the focus of the Regimental recruiting area moved out of the Highlands to embrace Dundee and Fife.

Americans, of course have completely different take on the term.
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Re: Nicknames

Postby mike snook » 27 Jan 2015 12:35

Jf.

Beg to differ in one regard. Equivalents to 'Jocks' are 'Micks' and 'Taffs' which I suppose are presudo-terms of endearment.

There is no equivalent to 'squaddie' which to my mind is a perjorative and should not be used by people who aspire to politeness (which we all should). 'Squaddie' tried to recapture in the heyday of the political left, call it 60s and 70s, something of the disdain in which soldiers had been held by the population at large in the pre-Crimean and pre-Kipling era. I am unclear whether it originated in America....it sounds like it probably did...but doubtless it would have had a completely different and entirely respectable context there. Here, it was meant amongst radicals to hint at an unthinking automaton (who would put down the poor beknighted 'people'), whereas in truth I always found, over 30 years, that there were a very high proportion of honourable, respectable, decent, principled men amongst those I had the privilege to lead: they were the people. As for that handful who were none of those things, well, they had to change their ways or, (fate worse than death), go and be in A Company!! Later the Sun and others adopted 'squaddie', unaware, I suppose, that the word represented anything other than a harmless turn of phrase. I still don't believe that the support of the Sun for 'our boys' made the word 'squaddie' respectable: at the same time all sorts of good people make use of it without knowing that there are those of us who feel about it as we do. On the other hand I fervently pray that I may I descend into the bowels of the earth and be disembowelled with a hot spoon on a daily basis if ever it inadvertently slips from my lips. Others may have a different interpretation but's that how I saw the word being used in my lifetime. Squaddies, when it first appeared, was a mid to late 20th century equivalent of 'scum of the earth'....but without the Duke's little known and rather more gentle follow up....'it is remarkable we have made them into the fine fellows they are.'

To me they were always 'soldiers', or rather more frequently at moments of teary-eyed sentimentality, (which was most of the time, for I loved and was proud of my late regiment), 'the boys', or my particular favourites, 'my boys' [my platoon, my company etc]. Scots officers are the ones for the word 'Jock'. They always talk about 'the Jocks' , with the definite article, where in my battalion, in the same context, we would say 'the boys'. We would not say 'the Taffs', although we would not consider that in any way offensive...Taff is after all a river (!)...and certainly nothing like as offensive as the officer of Royal Engineers who one day ordered 'a gin and orange' from one of our estimable mess waiters. Now that's offensive.

:wink:

M
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Re: Nicknames

Postby jf42 » 27 Jan 2015 14:44

Well, indeed. 'The Jocks' was- is- used as an equivalent to 'the men' within at least the Black Watch. I couldnt speak for other Scottish regiments. It was also used, behind closed doors figuratively speaking, as an equivalent to 'the common soldier' with all his virtues and vices as apparent to the officer class- hence my correlation with 'Squaddie.' I take your point re. the appropriation of the term 'squaddie' by some with particular emphasis on the licentioussness of the licentious soldiery but growing up in a garrison town I heard it used not only by the citizenry to describe the soldier - in awe or exasperation- but also by the soldiery to describe themselves, and by the training NCOs at the depot to describe their charges.There was always a degree of ambivalence in honourable Wellingtonian tradition, to be sure, but not exclusively perjorative as your own personal experience would suggest.

I believe Taff might come from Daffyd as in St David.

'Squaddie,' I think, comes from 'swaddie' a term originating in India. No chapter and verse to hand
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