Anzac Commemorative Medallion, issued to A. C. Atkinson, in fitted box of issue, for service with the ANZAC forces in Gallipoli during WW1.
Photo of him is from the VWMA.org.au, Virtual War Memorial Australia.
A rather saddening story, Alfred, a young 23 year old Australian Plasterer from Melbourne, had signed up with the first Australians to fight for his country during 1914, and took part in the famed Landing at Gabe Tepe, better known as Anzac Cove.
On his very first day in action he received two bullets fighting the Turkish army, one in his shoulder and one to his leg, he was immediately sent to the Australian General Hospital at Heliopolis and invalided back home.
He had landed at Anzac Cove with the 8th Battalion A.I.F., David Mills, 8th Battalion, who was killed on the day but wrote an eye-witness account shortly before in his diary wrote about the landing:
“Landing under fire like some monster fireworks. The battleships sending their Jack Johnsons roaring into the enemy. Shells are screaming Everywhere, ‘Lizzie’ is tearing the earth to shreds, I have kissed dear little Nan’s photo good-bye, ‘May God have mercy on my soul’ and care for them I have left behind. What a sunday.”
After some recovery he was able to return to duty, but with his wounds it was difficult, the medical board soon after discharged him as unfit and he returned to Melbourne.
A letter in his service records state he somehow re-enlisted having seemingly swapped his first and middle name around, having now joined the 58th Battalion, he was posted to France and was again wounded in action on 26th June 1916, being posted back for his second medical discharge, he was again discharged on 25th August 1916.
Soon afterwards in September 1916, Alfred was found destitute and sleeping in a Melbourne Park. He was in his Military Uniform, and was arrested and taken to jail, fined £2 and spent 14 days in prison for “Unlawfully having worn a Military Uniform.”
Residing over the court, Mr PJ Dwyer, F.M. denounced him: “You are bringing discredit on the whole service without any reason.”
Atkinson stated that his “Demob Suit” had been pawned, his only possessions he could sell, leaving him with only his old unwanted military uniform, in order to pay for food, he stated he had no home or friends and had been living in the park.
Constable Kennedy, who thought of Atkinson as a fraud, had visited the Defence Department to learnt that he been in the Landings and was wounded in action, to be discharged, however he had received his £28/14 of deferred pay, however he then states that the money was all gone to pay his debts.
Later on in the war he had re-enlisted once again, and rose to the rank of Quartermaster Sergeant.
He would once again re-enlist as he neared his 50th Birthday, to serve in WW2, he spent 4 years in the Army and was finally discharge aged 53 during 1946.
Quartermaster Sergeant Alfred Clifford Atkinson, also “Clifford Alfred Atkinson” was born in Prahran, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 31st July 1892.
He had been working as a Plasterer, when he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Forces, barely after the war had begun on 7th September 1914 in his home town of Melbourne.
He served with the 8th Battalion A.I.F. with service number 1000.
He first embarked for service on the Benalla at Melbourne on 19th October 1914.
Wounded in action on 24th April 1915, having received a Gunshot wound in action to the left shoulder and leg.
Listed as a “G. S. W. Shoulder and Leg (Serious)”
Admitted to the Australian General Hospital at Heliopolis on 30th April 1915
Following his wound he was invalided home to Australia on the Ballarat, 5th July 1915.
Having recovered somewhat from his wounds he was passed as Fit for Duty by the D.S. Medical Board and posted to Broad meadows for re-allotment on 9th November 1915.
However by 23rd November a reassessment necessitated his discharge from service:
“The DSM Board, Corporal A. C. Atkinson, was invalided to Australia and returned to duty. He is unable to undertake the strain of active military service, and has been re-boarded again. The board proceedings are forwarded herewith.”
During 1917 he appears to have served as an Armed Patrol Officer in Papua new Guinea:
“Port Moresby, 12th July 1917. The following temporary appointments as Patrol officers of Armed Constabulary – Alfred Clifford Atkinson, to take effect as from the 14th April 1917.”
This posting was later terminated on 2nd November 1917.
It appears he re-enlisted with the Australian Army, and was again discharged during late 1918 as Quartermaster Sergeant.
Unsurprisingly, he re-enlisted just before his 50th Birthday, to served his country once again in WW2 and served another 4 years as Sergeant with the Ordnance Department, serving in Australia, being discharged on 18th June 1946.
He later died in Australia during 1971, having claimed his ANZAC Medallion, instituted during 1967.