LEST WE FORGET

Wing Commander Richard Ashley ATKINSON DSO DFC & Bar

From Australia serving in the Royal Air Force

Flight Commander, No. 11 Squadron (RAAF), Cairns QLD, May 1942 – April 1943
Commanding Officer, No. 248 Squadron (RAF), May – September 1944

Service No: 70030 (RAF)
Born: Emmaville NSW, 21 May 1913
Enlisted in the RAF: 1933
Unit: No. 235 Squadron, RAF Station Banff, Scotland
Died: Air Operations: (No. 235 Squadron Mosquito aircraft HR114), Norway, 13 December 1944, Aged 30 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Jack and Emily Henrietta Atkinson; husband of Joan Patricia Atkinson, of Laidley, Queensland, Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 200, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Commemorative Roll, Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Brother of Sergeant John Anthony Atkinson (970210) (RAFVR)

DFC Citation (No. 205 Squadron RAF): “This officer has carried out many long distance reconnaissance sorties and on several occasions he has successfully beaten off attacking enemy aircraft. One morning in December 1941, Flight Lieutenant Atkinson’s flying boat was attacked by enemy aircraft when 300 miles north of Singapore. The enemy were immediately engaged but after a fifteen minute combat, the flying boat’s petrol tank was hit and exploded; the aircraft caught fire and was forced to alight on the sea. The crew of which two were wounded were all suffering from burns. They were unable to launch the dinghy and had to remain in the sea for 6.5 hours before being rescued by a Dutch submarine. Throughout Flt Lt Atkinson set an excellent example by his great steadiness and courage. London Gazette 27 March 1942, page 1381)”

DSO Citation in recognition of conspicuous service in operations against the Japanese. (London Gazette 24 April 1943): The Citation read in part as follows: “Since the entry of Japan into the war, Squadron Leader Atkinson has completed 1050 operational hours including 26 bombing raids, 82 reconnaissance flights, 2 supply 2 dropping flights, and 4 sea rescue operations. ………….. Upon arrival in Australia, he immediately sought a posting for further operational flying. He was posted to No. 11 Squadron and, as a flight commander and captain of Catalina aircraft, he completed approximately 90 per cent of the above mentioned operational hours between May and December 1942. For several months he commanded the Cairns detachment of Nos 11 and 20 Squadrons, and in that capacity has taken part in more raids than any other pilot in the two Squadrons. During the nights of 8th and 9th October 1942, he carried out an almost unparalleled effort in operational flying when he organised and took part in two consecutive night raids on Rabaul of 18 hours each making a total of 36 hours flying in the period of 42 hours. During both these raids, he carried a hull full of loose 25lb incendiary bombs making the aircraft most vulnerable with this unjettisonable load. In spite of this he pressed home both attacks in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire and started many fires for the B17’s attack. …………..”

Bar to the DFC Citation (No. 235 Squadron RAF): “Wing Commander Atkinson has participated in a very large number of sorties. In September 1944, this officer led an attack on two merchant ships both of which were sunk. In October 1944, Wing Commander Atkinson led a formation of aircraft in an attack on a large barge, a tug and two escort vessels. In spite of intense anti-aircraft fire, the attack was pressed home with great determination. The two escort vessels were set on fire and the tug was seriously damaged. On another occasion, this officer led a formation of aircraft in an attack on two small ships, both of which were sunk. By his gallant leadership, and great tactical ability, Wing Commander Atkinson played a prominent part in the successes obtained. (London Gazette 19/1/1945 page 467) “

Mosquito HR114 flown by Wing Commander Atkinson of No. 235 Squadron based at Banff, Scotland, took off on 13 December to attack shipping in the Eids Fiord on the Norwegian coast. Atkinson led in the attack of a strike force of 16 Mosquitos, and his aircraft was seen to be hit by flak in the starboard wing while over the target. As he pulled away from the attack, the starboard wing broke off, the aircraft rolled over and it crashed into the sea. It was considered unlikely that the crew survived the crash.

The crew members of HR114 were:

Wing Commander Richard Ashley Atkinson DSO DFC & Bar (70030) (RAF) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Valentine Charles Upton (152680) (RAFVR) (Navigator Wireless)

References:

Australian War Memorial Commemorative Roll On-Line Records
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 163/22/100