Personal info

  • Name: Thomas ATKINSON
  • D.O.B: 27th May, 1915
  • D.O.A: 15th Mar, 1939
  • D.O.D: 26th Mar, 1997
  • Award: Empire Gallantry Medal translated to George Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Corporal, 1st Battalion The Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment)
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 3
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Sources & Acknowledgements

Jinsafut Camp, Palestine 15 March 1939

15 March 1939

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BETWEEN THE WARS 1919–39 

After the end of the First World War Palestine was governed by the United Kingdom under a League of Nations Mandate. Jinsafut Camp was about ten miles east of Nablus. On 15 March 1939, while eight lorries were being refuelled, a fire broke out in the camp’s garage, which was close to both a barrack block and an ammunition dump. Corporal T Atkinson supervised the evacuation of the lorries. As fire extinguishers proved ineffective in tackling the blaze, he ordered his men to throw soil on the flames but one of them fell onto the burning fuel. Atkinson attempted to pull the man out but was caught by the blast from an exploding petrol tank. Meanwhile, Private T McAvoy holed the petrol tank of one of the other lorries to prevent it from exploding but also suffered serious burns in doing so. Twelve men were injured in the incident, three of whom died.

Citation

 The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to the undermentioned:– For Gallantry. No. 4388265 Corporal Thomas Atkinson, 1st Battalion, The Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment). Corporal Atkinson, who was in charge of the mechanical transport when a truck caught fire at Jinsafut Camp, Palestine, on the 15th March, 1939, organized the removal of the remainder of the Mechanical Transport to a point clear of the burning truck. Without his initiative and energy in rallying the drivers, and assisting them to move their trucks out of danger, the remainder of the transport must have caught fire as well; and a general conflagration throughout the camp would have been inevitable. Corporal Atkinson was subsequently indefatigable in his efforts to subdue the fire right up to the time he was severely burnt in endeavouring to save the life of one of his comrades. 

The London Gazette of 25 July 1939, Numb. 34648, p. 5104

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