b. 27/05/1915 Wilton Place, Redcar, Yorkshire. d. 26/03/1997 Portland, Dorset.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 15/03/1939 Jinsafut Camp, Palestine.
Thomas Atkinson (1915-1997) was born on 27th May 1915 at Wilton Place in Redcar, Yorkshire, the son of Walter and Sarah Atkinson (nee Hicks). His family had long associated with the sea and with the crew and coxswain of the Zetland lifeboat. He grew up with Stanley Hollis (later VC) but after attending West Dyke School and working at several different jobs, he enlisted with the Green Howards Regiment on 20th November 1933, at the age of 18.
During a stationing at Portland in Dorset, he met and married Doreen Bowen in 1937, before he was posted to Palestine where he was in charge of mechanical transport at Jinsfaut Camp, about 20 miles from Nablus.
On 15th March 1939 at Jinsfaut, a truck caught fire, and Corporal Atkinson was heavily involved in organising the removal of the remainder of the Mechanical Transport to a point clear of the burning truck. He was indefatigable in his efforts to subdue the fire right up to a time that he was severely burnt in endeavouring to save the life of a comrade. He and Private Thomas “Jock” McAvoy were both awarded the EGM for the action. Atkinson received his EGM from HRH The Princess Royal at Catterick Camp in Yorkshire on 25th July 1939. On the date of the exchange of the EGM for the new GC, he had to wait until 1942 for the investiture due to his war service.
When he recovered from his burns suffered in the Jinsfaut incident, he was promoted to Sergeant and moved to France in October 1939 with his battalion. However, it was soon discovered that the burns he had suffered made him unfit for service. He was posted to training jobs in Britain until he was finally discharged on medical grounds in 1944.
He returned to Portland to rejoin his wife and took a job as an Admiralty driver on the nearby naval base. Between 1946-48, he did a similar job in Singapore Dockyard before returning home to be employed as a stone sawyer in the stone industry in Portland. He remained there until he retired in 1965. He was a keen gardener, fisherman and snooker player in his spare time.
His wife sadly died in 1996, just a year before Thomas passed away on 26th March 1997, aged 81 and he was buried in Portland Cemetery. His medals were sold by John Hayward in 1973 and are held by the Green Howards Museum in Richmond, Yorkshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: GREEN HOWARDS MUSEUM, RICHMOND, YORKSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: PORTLAND CEMETERY, PORTLAND, DORSET.
Picture - Kevin Brazier
Thomas Atkinson's medals at the Green Howards Museum, Richmond, Yorkshire