Article about: Hi Chaps, I thought I'd add a nickname to the mix. Devonshire Regiment troops in WW1 were called 'Devonshire Dumplings'!!!! I don't know were this came from; but I find it odd. Saying that I
Like most military terms there are a lot of stories as to origin, this is from Wikipedia and explains the two most popular theories.
There are numerous theories about the origin of the term. Before World War I, the term "digger" was widely used in Australasia to mean a miner, and referring to a Kauri gum-digger in New Zealand. A popular story for the origin of this term dates it to April 25, 1915, during the Gallipoli campaign. Following the landing at Gallipoli, General Sir Ian Hamilton wrote to General William Birdwood, the commander of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), adding in postscript: "P.S.—You have got through the difficult business, now you have only to dig, dig, dig, until you are safe."
However, there is no hard evidence to suggest that Hamilton's message is the reason why digger was applied to ANZAC troops in general. One other theory is the fact that ANZAC troops were especially good at digging tunnels between their own trenches and the enemies, and were regarded by both sides as diggers, one being derogatory and the other more in jest. The job of digging between the trenches was very hard, especially when both sides' diggers met in the tunnels. ANZACS believed that it was a compliment to be referred to as diggers, because it indicated you were good at a very difficult job.
W. H. Downing, in Digger Dialects (1919), a glossary of words and phrases used by Australian personnel during the war, says that Digger was first used to mean a New Zealand or Australian soldier in 1916. It appears to have become popular among New Zealand troops before being adopted by Australians. The word was not in wide use amongst soldiers until 1917.
I appreciate you telling me that one, now I know. there's worse things to do in the military. man I could kick myself now, but in the mid 80's I was stationed at Pearl Harbor, we were out drinking & a friend gave me a Australian jungle hat from ww2, well I let a girl talk me out of it, that night it was worth it, but I really wish I had it back now. but that was when I was in the Navy, the marines loved to call us SQUID's because they lay on the bottom of the ocean, so their saying was squids are lower than whale crap.I always liked the navy better than the army, except for the guns in the army. thanks for the info. I appreciate it
It seems at times that people take a comment the wrong way. One of my Father's stories of his service during WWII, while in Melbourne, An Aussie called him "Yank". Being from the South eastern part of the US, my Father's reply was "I ain't no damn Yank, I'm a Rebel." It took me till the time just before his death to convince him that he wasn't trying to insult him, that it was their way of a greeting and there was no insult intended
I presume it arose around the American Civil war .... can anybody confirm that ?
more than likely, or from that stupid song yankee doodle dandy & yes it is an insult for us rebel boys to be called a yank. but I thought all this was settled & done with. yes Gary your probably right it mainly is from the civil war. I am from the south east & I hate being called a yankee, or it could be from the revolutianary war I think the British called them yanks then, but I could be wrong. would'nt be my first time, or my last time. oh well. then again Gary, there are yankees & northerners, there is a difference, some of my best friends are from the north. like my ex-son-in-law, we hated each other till he got a divorce from my daughter, now we are good friends again. LOL it's a long story. sorry CHRIS about your thread getting highjacked. I still think that helmet is cool looking & a good conversation piece.
Last edited by crazy horse; 12-14-2010 at 02:24 PM.
btw CHRIS, did you get the helmet, or did it skyrocket towards the end? I had a bid in on a 1940 E.U.F. Horster, matching #'s & a decent frog, it is a very nice combat bayonet with the nice blueing on it. I had the high bid on it for 6 days for $155.00 dollars, man during the last 10 seconds it was like a shark feeding frenzy, but I won it, but good grief it cost me more than I want to say. it is at my house though I love it , it has that nice German blueing on it, after I put RENWAX on it it looks like blue chrome. there is a mark on back of the frog that I just cant make out, even with a magnifying glass, it almost looks like a big 3 or 8 & maybe the rmz, or rzm mark in it , but much of it is rubbed off. well I hope you got the helmet it is a one of a kind. take care. Marty
The origins of the term are uncertain, and speculation abounds. In 1758, British General James Wolfe made the earliest recorded use of the word Yankee to refer to people from what was to become the United States, referring to the New England soldiers under his command as Yankees: "I can afford you two companies of Yankees, and the more because they are better for ranging and scouting than either work or vigilance." Later British use of the word often was derogatory, as in a cartoon of 1775 ridiculing "Yankee" soldiers. New Englanders themselves employed the word in a neutral sense: the "Pennamite-Yankee War", for example, was the name given to a series of clashes in 1769 over land titles in Pennsylvania, in which the "Yankees" were the Connecticut claimants.
Many faulty etymologies have been devised for the word, including one by a British officer in 1789 who said it derived from the Cherokee word eankke, meaning "coward" -- but no such word exists in Cherokee. Etymologies purporting an origin in languages of the aboriginal inhabitants of the United States are not well received by linguists. One such surmises that the word is borrowed from the Wyandot (called Huron by the French) pronunciation of the French l'anglais (meaning the English), sounded as "Y'an-gee". Writing in 1819, the Rev. John Heckewelder stated his belief that the name grew out of the attempts by Native Americans to pronounce the word English. The U.S. novelist James Fenimore Cooper supported this view in his 1841 book The Deerslayer. Linguists, however, do not support any Indian origins.
 Dutch origins
New Netherland is to the northwest, New England is to the northeast
Most linguists look to Dutch sources, noting the extensive interaction between the colonial Dutch in New Netherland (now largely New York state, New Jersey, and much of Delaware) and the colonial English in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The Dutch given names "Jan" and "Kees" were and still are common, and the two sometimes are combined into a single name, "Jan-Kees". The word "Yankee" is a variation that could have referred to English settlers moving into previously Dutch areas.
Michael Quinion and Patrick Hanks argue that the term refers to the Dutch nickname and surname Janneke (from "Jan" and the diminutive "-eke", meaning "Little John" or Johnny in Dutch), Anglicized to Yankee (the Dutch "J" is pronounced as a "Y" in English) and "used as a nickname for a Dutch-speaking American in colonial times". By extension, the term could have grown to include non-Dutch colonists as well.
H. L. Mencken explained the derogatory term "John Cheese" was often applied to the early Dutch colonists, who were famous for their cheeses. An example would be a British soldier commenting on a Dutch man "Here comes a John Cheese". The Dutch translation of John Cheese is "Jan Kaas", with the "J" sounding like "Y" in English; the two words thus would sound somewhat like "Yahn-kees" and could have given birth to the present term.
 Yankee Doodle
Perhaps the most pervasive influence on the use of the term throughout the years has been the song "Yankee Doodle", which was popular during the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) as, following the battles of Lexington and Concord, it was broadly adopted by American rebels. Today, "Yankee Doodle" is the official "state song" of Connecticut.