Nicknames

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Nicknames

Postby HerbertKitch12 » 19 Jan 2015 15:36

Hi

Does anybody know of any nicknames British soldiers were given during the late Victorian era aside from 'Tommy' or if they were given any nicknames by their Egyptian enemies. Likewise were the Egyptian rebels given any nicknames by the British during the revolt. Am thinking none racial nicknames in the same vein as Billy Yankee and Johnny Reb. Any help would be appreciated :-).
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Re: Nicknames

Postby Frogsmile » 21 Jan 2015 12:33

I think it was more 'Mr Thomas Atkins' at that time rather than Tommy. The latter seems to have gained coinage during WW1 and thus after the Victorian period. I am not aware of any other such sobriquets.

Almost all the British soldiers names for his enemy would be considered racist nowadays (e.g. Fuzzy Wuzzy and the 'N' and 'W' words were all endemic examples for indigenous enemies around the Eastern parts of empire). You will get a particularly good understanding of this if you read the autobiography (part one) 'Old Soldier Sahib', by Private Frank Richards of 2nd RWF.
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Re: Nicknames

Postby HerbertKitch12 » 21 Jan 2015 12:43

My main worry was that the names would be generally racial towards the Egyptians. Still it would be interesting to know if the Egyptians had any nicknames for our soldiers.

Anyway thanks for your reply :-)
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Re: Nicknames

Postby Frogsmile » 21 Jan 2015 12:45

HerbertKitch12 wrote:My main worry was that the names would be generally racial towards the Egyptians. Still it would be interesting to know if the Egyptians had any nicknames for our soldiers.



Yes, I am certain that they would have been. We cannot allow modern sensibilities to encroach upon historical fact if it is authenticity that you seek. Unpalatable though it may be, they were different times then.
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Re: Nicknames

Postby Mark A. Reid » 25 Jan 2015 00:36

Hello All;

Sorry to have missed this thread earlier, have been off my usual schedule of late. Regarding British nicknames for their Egyptian enemies-later-allies, I can provide a few from memory:

1) Martin Winstock in his fascinating book Songs and Music of the Redcoats quotes a ditty that was set to the tune of " Pop Goes The Weasel " and cast aspersions on the non-arrival of The Buffs in Egypt in 1882, just after the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir:

The men of Kent were battered and bent,
They staggered as far as Malta,
The Gyppies fired, the Buffs retired,
You couldn't see their a*se for water.


2) Andrew Haggard, a Captain in the KOSB, served four years with the Egyptian Army and built up quite a respect for his stolid, uncomplaining felaheen soldiers. He invariably referred to himself, and the handful of other British officers serving H.H. the Khedive, as Gyppie Officers. Not very imaginative of course but the sort of word that could vary in meaning depending on the person who used it. To Haggard it was a badge of pride whilst to some Whitechapel tearaway with limited education it probably ranked right down there with Chink, etc.

3) G.C. Hunter, another British officer on contract to the Egyptian Army, took a number of wonderfully atmospheric photos of the Egyptian Army during his tenure with the XIth Sudanese Infantry Bn. To our benefit he annotated them all with his own comments in longhand. One that shows several Sudanese wounded in a military hospital ward after the Battle of Gemaizah is captioned Poor Old Sambo. I have no doubt that Sambo was reserved for Sudanese soldiers because of their much darker complexion and obvious Negro features. My memory seems to recall that he used the same term on other occasions in affectionate memory of his Sudanese soldiers.

Regarding Egyptian terms for their British foes/allies I have never come across a derogatory or racist term in all my readings. The most important matter to a devout Muslim soldier is, of course, the non-believer status of the Europeans but this would have encompassed every non-Muslim. The word Nesranee refers to Christians collectively whilst Infidel is another term that both Hollywood and CNN have skewed for modern readers in terms of its original straightforward meaning.

When I return home will have another look but I'd be very surprised if many/any Egyptian soldiers worried about a suitable nasty term for the British. After all, so many invaders have visited their country that they must all seem to blur into a single entity! What really annoyed the average Egyptian in 1882 wasn't the British but the stranglehold that the Ottomans held on their country, and the Army, etc. But that, as Kipling wrote, is another story!

Cheers,

Mark
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Re: Nicknames

Postby rclpillinger » 25 Jan 2015 19:41

I have published a letter written to the Tenth Royal Hussars when they were in India, written by a retired Shiner who recounts his early days with the Regiment. He joined in the same group as my Grandfather in1880

In the letter he recounts how the Regiment, when on their way home in 1884, were stopped outside Aden and diverted to Suakin, to help in the fight at El Teb and Tamia.

He refers to the enemy there as the "Fuzzy-Wuzzies" Clearly a quite harmless nickname which we could never use today.

To see the whole text go to [url]majorpillinger.com[/url] click on "about"
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Re: Nicknames

Postby mike snook » 25 Jan 2015 22:42

There is certainly no reason not to use Fuzzy Wuzzy: it is a reference to the carefully groomed hair-styles much beloved by Bija males at that time. Nothing more. As long as one knows what one is doing, one is on perfectly legitimate ground. People who do not know their history might get it wrong, but there is no catering for that. It became, through Kipling's verse, synonymous with respect for the superb fighting qualities of the Bija.

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Re: Nicknames

Postby Josh&Historyland » 26 Jan 2015 02:27

Quite so Mike:

Fuzzy Wuzzy 1892.

"WE'VE FOUGHT with many men acrost the seas,
An' some of 'em was brave an' some was not:
The Paythan an' the Zulu an' Burmese;
But the Fuzzy was the finest o' the lot.
We never got a ha'porth's change of 'im:
'E squatted in the scrub an' 'ocked our 'orses,
'E cut our sentries up at Suakim,
An' 'e played the cat an' banjo with our forces.

So 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan;
You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man;
We gives you your certificate, an' if you want it signed
We'll come an' 'ave a romp with you whenever you're inclined.

We took our chanst among the Khyber 'ills,
The Boers knocked us silly at a mile,
The Burman give us Irriwaddy chills,
An' a Zulu impi dished us up in style:
But all we ever got from such as they
Was pop to what the Fuzzy made us swaller;
We 'eld our bloomin' own, the papers say,
But man for man the Fuzzy knocked us 'oller.

Then 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an' the missis and the kid;
Our orders was to break you, an' of course we went an' did.
We sloshed you with Martinis, an' it wasn't 'ardly fair;
But for all the odds agin' you, Fuzzy-Wuz, you broke the square.

'E 'asn't got no papers of 'is own,
'E 'asn't got no medals nor rewards,
So we must certify the skill 'e's shown
In usin' of 'is long two-'anded swords:
When 'e's 'oppin' in an' out among the bush
With 'is coffin-'eaded shield an' shovel-spear,
An 'appy day with Fuzzy on the rush
Will last an 'ealthy Tommy for a year.

So 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an' your friends which are no more,
If we 'adn't lost some messmates we would 'elp you to deplore;
But give an' take's the gospel, an' we'll call the bargain fair,
For if you 'ave lost more than us, you crumpled up the square!

'E rushes at the smoke when we let drive,
An', before we know, 'e's 'ackin' at our 'ead;
'E's all 'ot sand an' ginger when alive,
An' 'e's generally shammin' when 'e's dead.
'E's a daisy, 'e's a ducky, 'e's a lamb!
'E's a injia-rubber idiot on the spree,
'E's the on'y thing that doesn't give a damn
For a Regiment o' British Infantree!

So 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan;
You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man;
An' 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, with your 'ayrick 'ead of 'air -
You big black boundin' beggar - for you broke a British square!"

It's backhanded but it's honest admiration, speaking not only of the enemies courage as only a Victorian can, it speaks of the place the "British square" held in the mind of the public, and indeed the army, also highlighting what Sir Harry Smith moaned about in his autobiography. The focus on massed frontal manoeuvres, and reliance on squares, rather than the light troop work accomplished under Moore, Mannigham etc, and tested during his time in Spain.

As for Tommy, it's obviously used by Kipling in Wuzzy, and out and out in "Tommy" 1890 I think.

"I WENT into a public 'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, " We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' " Tommy, go away " ;
But it's " Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's " Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' " Tommy, wait outside ";
But it's " Special train for Atkins " when the trooper's on the tide
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's " Special train for Atkins " when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap.
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Tommy, 'ow's yer soul? "
But it's " Thin red line of 'eroes " when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's " Thin red line of 'eroes, " when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's " Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's " Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! "
But it's " Saviour of 'is country " when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An 'Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!"

Tommy seems fairly in fashion rather than Thomas here.

Josh.
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Re: Nicknames

Postby Frogsmile » 26 Jan 2015 13:09

Yes Josh, how could I ever have forgotten Kipling's "Tommy". My point really was that the sobriquet Tommy gained a much greater coinage as a result of the mass recruitment of WW1 and an associated military argot amongst the households of the nation.
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Re: Nicknames

Postby mike snook » 26 Jan 2015 16:37

This might amuse you. I was writing away the other day and took it into my head to mention the apocryphal 'Private Thomas Atkins' in the text. I then thought I would make the point that in a regiment made up of mostly Scotsmen and Irishmen that Thomas Atkins was far more likely to be called....something typically Scottish....[a Donald or a Dougal with a surname beginning with a Mc....thinks I] and something typically Irish....[a Patrick O' something....thinks I]....something along those lines anyhow; cliched perhaps, but good enough to make the point.

Right, thinks I, the clever thing to do is to scour the regiment's medal roll for names that fit the bill. So out comes the medal roll....I leaf through to find the regiment in question....open at the right page.....and hey ho....the very first name I clapped eyes on was a for real, absolutely pucka Private Thomas Atkins! You couldn't make it up. [I'm not making it up, honest].

As ever

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Re: Nicknames

Postby jf42 » 26 Jan 2015 17:44

Strike a light- would you credit it!
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Re: Nicknames

Postby Josh&Historyland » 26 Jan 2015 17:54

Absolutely right Frogsmile, indeed I was shocked to learn that Atkins can be traced back to 1815, I had thought previously that it was just a name to be found in "Commando Books".

Well did you ever Mike, what a swell party! (couldn't resist). How old is the nickname "Jock" for privates in Highland regiment's?

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Re: Nicknames

Postby Frogsmile » 26 Jan 2015 22:01

mike snook wrote:This might amuse you. I was writing away the other day and took it into my head to mention the apocryphal 'Private Thomas Atkins' in the text. I then thought I would make the point that in a regiment made up of mostly Scotsmen and Irishmen that Thomas Atkins was far more likely to be called....something typically Scottish....[a Donald or a Dougal with a surname beginning with a Mc....thinks I] and something typically Irish....[a Patrick O' something....thinks I]....something along those lines anyhow; cliched perhaps, but good enough to make the point.

Right, thinks I, the clever thing to do is to scour the regiment's medal roll for names that fit the bill. So out comes the medal roll....I leaf through to find the regiment in question....open at the right page.....and hey ho....the very first name I clapped eyes on was a for real, absolutely pucka Private Thomas Atkins! You couldn't make it up. [I'm not making it up, honest].

As ever

M


I don't doubt you for one second Mike, such strange coincidences seem to recur. It is an interesting name that always seems to me to be halfway between fact and legend. I was surprised to learn that the name was first seen in official print as an everyman name used in a specimen pay book for British soldiers circa 1815. Even more uncanny is that his regiment was shown as the 23rd - which of course brought me great pleasure. Reading further I learned that it supposedly originates from the Duke of Wellington being asked to suggest a name for the pay book when publication of the guide was being considered and he allegedly cast his mind back to a soldier of the 33rd whose brave death and last words he had witnessed. How true this is I of course do not know, but the pay book certainly contained the details that I have recounted.
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Re: Nicknames

Postby mike snook » 26 Jan 2015 23:44

Yebo, that's the story I'm familiar with too Frogsmile. Out of casual interest my man was in was in 6th (The Royal First Warwickshire) Regiment in the 8th CFW.

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Re: Nicknames

Postby Frogsmile » 27 Jan 2015 02:14

mike snook wrote:Yebo, that's the story I'm familiar with too Frogsmile. Out of casual interest my man was in was in 6th (The Royal First Warwickshire) Regiment in the 8th CFW.

As ever

M


Ah the saucy sixth...Montgomery's and Slim's mob...how very appropriate!
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