Name: Alfred Atkins
Service Number: 5031
Units Served: 10th Battalion
Personal Details: Alfred Atkins was born in 1857 in Geelong, Victoria to parents Henry and Edde Atkins. He was the only child to be born to Henry and Edde, and as he grew up he moved to Verdun, South Australia where he continued to live until he enlisted.
Alfred grew into a 5 ft 7 inch man with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and grey hair, weighing in at 132 lbs. He had previously worked as a tinsmith and at the time of his enlistment was working as a plumber. He had also spent 3 years as part of the Ballarat Volunteer Militia.
Enlistment Details: On the 30th December 1915 Alfred enlisted at Adelaide and joined the A.I.F. His attestation papers stated he was 45 years old when he enlisted.
Military Service: On the 25th of March 1916 Alfred Atkins departed from Adelaide on the H.M.A.T. A9 “Shropshire”. He travelled on the ship to England where his battalion spent some time training in the Durrington Camp.
On the 29th of December 1916 Alfred was admitted sick to Frago Hospital where he spent just under a month recuperating. He marched into 3rd Training Base at Durrington on the 22nd of January 1917 after being discharged from Frago hospital.
He spent the next 5 months with his battalion out in the field before the 10th battalion was relieved during the second battle of Bullecourt. Alfred failed to return from the rest period and was declared to be illegally absent on the 8th of May 1917.
What he did while he was illegally absent is unknown but on the 17th of November 1917 Alfred was finally found, brought back to Larkhill and questioned on his absence. He remained there awaiting his warrant to rejoin his unit. Witnesses say that he seemed miserable and had a vacant look in his eyes. Three days later on the 20th of November 1917 Alfred was found in the hut dead, fully clothed with a razor in his right hand. He was taken to Fargo Military Hospital but was pronounced dead due to a self inflicted cut throat. Enquiry into his death gave verdict of “Suicide while of unsound mind.”
Date of Death: 19/11/1917
Age at Death: 60 years
Cemetery Details: Sutton Veny (St John) Churchyard, Wiltshire, England
Interesting Material: Although Alfred claimed on his attestation paper to be 45 years old when he enlisted, he was actually 58 years old at the time. Obviously he had some motive which made him lie about his age so he could enlist. Alfred’s reasons will remain a mystery as he had no known family left alive.