One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(A generic name for) a British private soldier; British private soldiers collectively. Also occasionally in extended use: a private in any army; a member of the rank and file in any organization.
Mid 19th century. Apparently from Tommy, pet form of the male forename Thomas + the surname Atkins, after Thomas Atkins.
Tommy Atkins/ˌtɒmi ˈatkɪnz/
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