Talking to my Parish Priest one day I illustrated a point by describing an incident during the First World War.
He seemed interested and said: "Why don't you write a book about your experiences?" I laughed at the idea and told him, quite truthfully, that I hadn't had the education.
However, I mentioned the matter to my daughter, who is interested in writing herself, and she said: "Go on Dad, get some pencils and exercise books and write down what you can remember. I'll type it for you and at least I should like to read it".
So, after fifty years I set out to record what I can remember of my Army experiences. Every word is true; only some of the names mentioned are fictitious and I have purposely avoided looking up records and histories so that just my memories are included. I cannot vouch for the actual order of the events as I have no memory for dates.
The result is dedicated to the best pal a Tommy ever had, Bill Easterby.
Written by Harry Williams © 1965, 2010. All rights are strictly reserved. This publication may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, typescript, recording or otherwise, without prior permission in writing. Scanned from the original typescript and edited by Leigh Graham.
Tommy Atkins (often just Tommy) has been used as a generic name for a common soldier for many years it is particularly associated with World War I. German soldiers (equivalent nickname: Jerry) would call out to Tommy across no man's land if they wished to speak to a British soldier. French and Commonwealth troops would also call British soldiers "Tommies". The origin is a subject of debate, but it is known to have been used as early as 1743; A letter sent from Jamaica about a mutiny amongst the troops says "except for those from N. America ... ye Marines and Tommy Atkins behaved splendidly".