When I assert—as I do unhesitatingly assert—that no one could work in a war-hospital ward for any length of time without an ever-deepening respect and fondness for Tommy Atkins, it is the same thing as asserting that the respect and fondness are evoked by close contact with one’s countrymen: nothing more nor less. A hospital ward is a haphazard selection of one’s fellow-Britons: the most wildly haphazard it is possible to conceive. And the pessimistic cynic who, after a sojourn in that changing company for a month or two can still either generalise about them or (if he does) can still not acknowledge that in the mass they are amazingly lovable, is beyond hope. The war has taught its lessons to us all, and none more important than this. For myself I confess that I never knew before how nice were nine out of ten of the individuals with whom I sat silent in trains, whom I glanced at in business offices or behind counters, whom I saw in workshops or in the field or who were my neighbours in music-halls. They were strangers. In the years to come I hope they will be strangers no longer. For they and I have dressed alike and borne the same surname—Atkins.
Of course, there remain a few generalisations which can safely be risked about even so nondescript a person as the new Tommy Atkins. As practically all the Tommy Atkinses are, at this moment, concentrated on the prosecution of one great job, it is natural that their main interests should revolve round that job. They all (for instance) want the job to be finished. They all (within my experience) want