Ernest Albert (Bert, Alby) ATKINSON

ATKINSON, Ernest Albert

Service Number: 1878
Enlisted: 1 February 1916, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Snowtown, South Australia, 5 December 1893
Home Town: Cummins, Lower Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
Schooling: Snowtown Public School and Marble View Public School, South Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in Action, Hazebrouck, France, 18 April 1918, aged 24 years
Cemetery: Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery, France
Plot III, Row E, Grave 7
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Cummins Memorial Pavers, Payneham District Council Roll of Honor, Payneham Road Uniting (Methodist) Church Honor Roll, Payneham Roll of Honour, Port Lincoln & District Honor Roll WW1, Port Lincoln Garden of Remembrance, Tumby Bay RSL Portrait Memorials, Tumby Bay War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

1 Feb 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 1878, Adelaide, South Australia
13 Jul 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 1878, 48th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '19' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Seang Bee embarkation_ship_number: A48 public_note: ''
13 Jul 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 1878, 48th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Seang Bee, Adelaide
14 Jun 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 10th Infantry Battalion
18 Apr 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1878, 10th Infantry Battalion, German Spring Offensive 1918, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 1878 awm_unit: 10 Battalion awm_rank: Private awm_died_date: 1918-04-18

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Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Alby was born on 5 Dec 1893 at Snowtown (SA) to Charles Henry Atkinson and Emma Stewart Atkinson (nee Bidgood).  There were 4 children in the family, 3 boys and a girl, of which he was the second youngest.  His family lived at Melton (near Snowtown, SA) before moving to Tumby Bay in 1904 aboard the SS "Ferret" and travelling inland to establish a farm in partnership with Mr. J. Durdin on Sect 2 Hd of Cummins.  

He went to Marble View School (south of Cummins) which was located in the church at that location.  On completion of schooling he worked on the family farm until his enlistment in the Army  in Adelaide at the age of 22.  He gave his occupation as farmer and his address as Cummins, Eyres Peninsular (sic), SA.

On enlistment Alby was sent to 2nd Depot Battalion (Bn) at Mitcham for training before being allocated to 3rd Reinforcements/48th Bn.

The 48th Bn was raised in Egypt on 16 Mar 1916 as part of the "doubling" of the AIF. Approximately half of its recruits were Gallipoli veterans from the 16th Bn, the other half being fresh reinforcements from Australia. Reflecting the composition of the 16th, the men of the new Bn hailed mainly from regional S.A. and W.A. The Bn embarked in early Jun 1916 aboard HMAT "Caledonia" bound for Marseilles (France) arriving on 9 Jun 1916.

The 48th first major battle on the Western Front was Pozieres. Here, it was tasked with defending ground captured in earlier attacks by the 2nd Division and entered the line on two separate occasions - 5 to 7 and 12 to 15 Aug 1916. During the former period the battalion endured what was said to be the heaviest artillery barrage ever experienced by Australian troops and suffered 598 casualties - the total Bn strength was just over 1000 men! Before it had recovered from the trials of Pozieres, the 48th was again required to defend ground captured during the battle of Mouquet Farm.

Alby  had embarked from Australia aboard the HMAT "Seong Bee" on 13 Jul 1916 for further training in UK before being taken on strength by his unit (48th Bn) on 4 Dec 1916 at Etaples in France. Almost immediately he was admitted to 12th General Hospital where he remained for 2 months before returning to his unit in Feb 1917. However, it was only a brief stay, as again he was admitted to hospital, again for a period of 2 months.

On release from hospital he was transferred to 10th Bn on 14 Jun 1917.

The 10th Bn was one of the first units raised for the AIF in Aug 1914, embarking for overseas in Nov. It was one of the first units ashore at Gallipoli on 25 Apr 1915. After withdrawal from Gallipoli the Bn returned to Alexandria (Egypt) for reforming before it sailed for France and the Western Front, arriving in Mar 1916.

Obviously Alby still had not fully recovered from his illness, as a month after being taken on strength by his new unit (10th Bn) he was again admitted to hospital. This time through 1st General Hospital, then evacuated to 39th General Hospital. He was finally released from hospital and returned to his unit on 13 Oct 1917.

Alby was killed in action (KIA) on18 Apr 1918 when his unit was deployed to halt the German Spring Offensive (Operation Lys - Mar/Apr 1918) in the area around Hazebrouck (France). He is buried at Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery in France. 

His elder brother, Frederick James Atkinson also served with 10th Bn during WW1 and was killed in action on 26 Aug 1918 near Amiens (France), during the "100 Days Offensive" conducted by the Allies; it was one of the last battles fought by the 10th, the unit being withdrawn from the line in Sep 1918. Apparently neither brother was aware that they were serving in the same Bn.

The names of both brothers are recorded on the Tumby Bay Memorial.

The family relocated from the area to Payneham after the death of their sons.


Compiled by Geoff Stewart - RSL Tumby Bay Jul 19


Biography contributed by Sheridon Bodnar

Background Information

Private Ernest Albert Atkinson number 1878 was born in Snowtown on the 5th of December 1893. He lived with his mother Emma Stewart (nee Bidgood), who was a banker, his dad Charles Henry Atkinson, who was a butcher and with his older brother, Frederick James Edward Richard Atkinson, in their hometown of Cummins, in the Lower Eyre of the Peninsula in South Australia. Ernest was a farmer and was educated at the Marble View Public School. Before the war, Ernest served as volunteer Rifleman in the Koppis Club.

World War 1 Service

On the 1st of February 1916, he enlisted in the AIF at Adelaide, South Australia. Then on the 13th of July 1916, 1878 Pte. Ernest Atkinson of the 48th Infantry Battalion embarked for service abroad, aboard the HMAT Seang Bee from Adelaide.

Death Information

Ernest was killed in action in France on Thursday the 18th of April 1918, aged 25. Ernest is buried in the Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery, grave 7 in France. At the Australian War Memorial, Ernest is remembered at panel 58 in the roll of honour section.

Ernest Albert Atkinson Personality

He was a bright, cheerful and encouraging man that had won many friends. “Ernest led a good life” and “Bert was a good bloke, soldier and a thorough gentlemen with a fine character, that is always willing to help us, in any way”.


Discovering Anzacs (

AWM Roll of Honour (

AWM Embarkation Roll (

Trove - Died for their Country (



Private E. A. ATKINSON, who was killed in action on April 17, was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. C Atkinson, Payneham, late of Cummins. He enlisted in February, 1916, and had about eighteen months' active service. He was born at Snowtown 24 years ago, and spent the earlier part of his life there, and the latter at Cummins farming with the family until enlisting. His bright and cheerful disposition won many friends, and as an officer writes of him, "Bert was a good soldier and a thorough gentleman, with a fine character, and always willing to help us (his pals) in any way." Fred, his brother is still on active service." - from the Adelaide Chronicle 03 Aug 1918 (