- Branch of Service
- World War II
- Date of Enlistment
- Date of Discharge
- Place of Enlistment
- Low Level, Territory of New Guinea
- Other Name(s)
- Known as 'Stan'
- Date of Birth
- Place of Birth
- Skipton, Victoria
- Address (at enlistment)
- Donaldson Street, Braddon ACT
- Public servant
- Next of Kin
- Elizabeth Atkinson (wife), Donaldson Street, Braddon ACT
- Service Number
- NX128773 (N42902)
- Final Rank
- Final Unit
- 2/4 Battalion
Military Cross (Commonwealth of Australia Gazette: 1 April 1943, page 758, position 21)
Atkinson arrived in Canberra in 1928 to work in the public service. Among his interests were the Canberra Operatic Society, with whom he appeared in several performances during the 1930's, and after the war the Canberra Philharmonic. He enlisted in the militia in Canberra in January 1937 and was appointed as a Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion on 10 February 1939. He was mobilised in October 1940 by which time he had been appointed as a temporary Captain. He arrived in Port Moresby with the 3rd Battalion in May 1942. Appointed as commanding officer of B Company in 3 Battalion, Atkinson led his men across the Owen Stanley's and along the Kokoda Track from September onwards. On 20 September he led a patrol of 58 men tasked with locating and harassing the Japanese on Ioribaiwa Ridge. He was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery and leadership at Templeton's Crossing on 18 October 1942. According to the citation, Atkinson "led a company attack on a strongly held enemy position. He was prominent in the forefront of the attack throughout the operation and after successfully consolidating on the feature previously held by the enemy, it was discovered he had routed probably twice his own number and captured an enemy HQ position. A number of automatic weapons and several Brief Bags of documents were captured. The success of the attack is attributed to Atkinson's inspiring leadership and fine example of personal bravery."
After the battle one of the men remembered Atkinson breaking into song. "I knew he had a fine baritone voice from his Canberra days and it was as pleasing to hear as it was unexpected." After leading his men in battle at Oivi and on towards Gona on the north coast of Papua, Atkinson became ill with malaria and was being treated at a field hospital in Soputa in November 1942 when it was bombed by the Japanese. He escaped unscathed and returned to Australia in January 1943 and was then transferred to the 2/4th Battalion in July 1943. He arrived with his new unit in Aitape, New Guinea in November 1944 where they campaigned against the Japanese eastwards along the coast to Wewak during April 1945, capturing the town on 10 May 1945. They then fought the Japanese in the Prince Alexander Ranges through to July 1945 when Atkinson was attached to Headquarters in Lae.
He played Australian Rules football for Canberra, Acton and Ainslie and helped form the 3rd Battalion Association after the war. He served as treasurer at St. John's Church in Reid (1951-1957) and in 1960 was licensed as a deacon in the church. Atkinson worked for the Department of External Affairs after the war but was ordained as an Anglican priest at St. John's on 21 September 1962 and appointed full time to St. Philip's church in O'Connor where he ministered until 1964. He also served in the church at Delegate (1964-66), Canterbury (1966-67) and Torrens (1967-76) until he retired on 17 August 1976. Atkinson died on 7 October 1996, aged 85 years and his ashes were interred in the memorial wall at St. John's churchyard, Reid.
Description - height 5 feet 7 inches, blue eyes, fair complexion, brown hair, Church of England.
AWM Honours & Awards
Alfred Body, 'Firm Still You Stand', 1986
Bill James, 'Field Guide to the Kokoda Track', 2006
Colin Kennedy, 'Port Moresby to Gona Beach. 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion 1942', 1992
Ken Laycock, 'Memories of a Militiaman', 1995 (typescript in ACT Heritage Library)
Lex McAulay, 'Blood and Iron', 1991
Cecil Warren, 'A little foolishness : an autobiographical history', 1993
NAA RecordSearch - Series B883 (Second Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1939-1947)
The Canberra Times - 15 July 1930, 27 June 1931, 28 September 1936, 17 November 1936, 5 January 1939, 23 May 1940, 1 July 1941, 15 January 1943, 13 December 1943, 14 August 1944, 21 April 1948, 7 June 1956, 1 March 1960, 11 April 1980, 23 August 1987
Queanbeyan Age - 21 October 2002
Image provided by the Archivist, St. John's Church, Reid