Edwin Henry Atkins was born on the 30th January 1885 at Great Stanmore, Middlesex.
His father, Joseph Atkins, married his mother, Charlotte Gurney on the 11th April 1875 at Trinity Church, Leverstock Green. They had seven children:
1. Minnie born in 1875 at Watford Union.
2. Frederick George born in 1877 at Stanmore.
3. Joseph Alfred (known as Alfred) born in 1879 at Stanmore.
4. John born in 1881 at Stanmore died in 1895 at Watford.
5. Eleanor Eliza (known as Ellen) born in 1883 at Stanmore.
6. Edwin Henry.
7. Minnie born in 1888 at Stanmore.
Charlotte died in 1893 at Watford and Joseph then married Elizabeth Jeeves on the 14th April 1894 at the Baptist Chapel, Watford. They had two children:
1. Annie Dora May born in 1894 at Watford.
2. Emma born in 1896 at Watford.
During the 1881 census the family were living at Little Common, Great Stanmore, Middlesex. Joseph was shown as a Brewers Drayman. By the time of the 1891 census they were living at Frying Pan Alley, Bushey, Watford. Joseph was now shown as being employed as a Carman. Edwin does not appear in this census, but a sister called Mary, like Edwin born in 1885 at Stanmore, does. However, no birth record can be found for Mary and she does not appear in any other record. It is believed that Mary was in fact Henry and the census compiler simply made a mistake.
At the time of the 1901 census the family were living at 2, Hadleigh Beach Road, Hadleigh, Essex and Joseph was shown as a Ballast Burner labourer. Again, Edwin cannot be found in the 1901 census, but it is believed that he had joined the Army and was in South Africa.
Early Army Service.
Edwin’s early Army Service Record has not survived but a later record shows he first enlisted in the Army on the 19th February 1900 for short service of seven years in the Colours and five in the Reserves. He would have been only 15 at that time but the same record shows his date of birth incorrectly as 31st January 1882. He may have lied about or possibly not known his real age. Furthermore, his wedding certificate dated the 18th October 1905 shows his occupation as Corporal in the 1st Dragoon Guards. His age was also given as 22 meaning he was born in 1883.
The 1901 Medal Roll for the Queen’s South Africa medal shows a Private 4665 Edward A. Atkins in the 1st (Kings) Dragoon Guards, receiving clasps for Cape Colony and Orange Free State. However, the 1902 Medal Roll shows a Lance Corporal 4665 E.H. Atkins in the 1st (Kings) Dragoon Guards receiving clasps for Cape Colony and Orange Free State, Transvaal and 1901 and 1902.
Edwin married Frances Ward on the 18th October 1905 at Blofield, Norfolk. They had seven children one of whom died before the 1911 census.
1. James Frank Edwin born and died in 1906 at Aldershot and buried on the 14th February 1906 at Aldershot Military Burial Ground, Hampshire. He was erroneously shown as Edwin aged 5 weeks in the 1911 census.
2. Amelia Frances Camilla (known as Camilla) born in 1907 at Islington.
3. Edwin Henry born in 1908 at St. Albans.
4. Sylvia Josephine born in 1910 at St. Albans.
5. Irene Victoria born in 1912 at St. Albans.
6. Joseph Randall born in 1913 at St. Albans.
7. Mary Alexander born in 1915 at St. Albans.
Edwin’s seven years in the Colours would have expired on the 19th February 1907 and there is nothing to say that he did not leave the Army at that time.
Edwin’s St. Albans City Police Service Record has also not survived so his date of appointment is not known but, as 5 of his 7 children were born in St. Albans, the earliest being Edwin Henry on the 25th August 1907, then it is reasonable to assume that he was a Police Constable there at the time.
The Electoral Rolls of 1910 to 1915 list Edwin Henry Atkins as living at 47, Dalton Street, St. Albans.
During the 1911 census shown as living at 47, Dalton Street, St. Albans are Edwin Atkins, Police Constable City of St. Albans Corporation, and his family.
Army Service During The War.
His Army Service Record covering the early part of the Great War has not survived but in his book “‘Be Proud’ Hertfordshire and The Great War; An Anthology,” John G.E. Cox wrote about how Hertfordshire heard that War had been declared using the Herts. Advertiser, dated the 8th August 1914 as his source: “For example, four St. Albans City Police Constables re-joined their regiments, PC Atkins to Dunbar to re-join the 1st King’s Dragoons; PC Edwards to Bedford to 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment; PC Thorpe to Chelsea Barracks to the Coldstream Guards; and PC Bass to Woolwich to the Royal Army Service Corps.” However, Edwin did not remain in the Dragoons as is shown by General Order 131 of the 2nd December 1916, published by the Hertford County Constabulary. The Constabulary had been instructed by the Home Office in 1916 to administer the St. Albans City Police for the duration of the War:
Police Constable Edwin Henry Atkins No. 20 of the St. Albans City Police who was recalled to the army on 4th August 1914 and is now a Staff Sergeant of the Military Provost Corps has been permitted by the War Office Authority to re-engage to complete 21 years Colour Service. PC Atkins has relinquished his appointment as a Police Constable of the City of St. Albans and his name has been struck off the strength of the establishment of the Force as from the 6th November 1916. The Watch Committee has awarded to ex-Police Constable Atkins the sum of £5/7/4 as a refund of his contributions to the Police Pension Fund.
No Medal Roll Index Card or Medal Roll has been found indicating all his service was at Home.
Edwin transferred to the Royal Flying Corps on the 30th July 1917 as Sergeant 88923 with is Trade given as Disciplinarian.
The following was recorded: Name: Edwin Henry Atkins, born on the 31st January 1882 at Stanwell (should be Stanmore), Middlesex. He gave his religion as Church of England.
Current Engagement in H.M. Forces:
Army: First enlisted on the 19th February 1900, aged 18 years 10 days, for 7 years in colours 5 in the Reserves.
Royal Flying Corps: 30th July 1917 Service No. 88293.
Royal Air Force: 1st April 1918 Service No. 88293.
Period re-engaged: To complete 21 years’ service.
Prior Engagement in HM Forces: Military Provost Staff Corps. Rank on Discharge: P/1794.
Civilian Occupation: Plumbers Mate.
Marriage: 18th October 1905 Blofield. Next of Kin: Wife Frances 51, Bernard Street, St. Albans.
Description on Engagement in H.M. Forces: Height: 5 feet 7 ¾ inches. Hair: Brown. Eyes: Blue. Complexion: Fair.
Discharged under Para 392 (XXI) on Termination of his Period of Engagement on 9th December 1921. Total Service Towards Current Engagement: 21 years 294 days. Total Service Towards Pension: 14 years 126 days. Rank on Discharge: Sergeant Major Class 1.
Address on Discharge: C/O Mrs. Heath, 219, Euston Road, London.
The 1919 to 1922 Electoral Rolls show living at 51, Bernard Street, St. Albans are Edwin Henry and Frances Atkins. The Rolls for 1920 and 1921 show Edwin being absent whilst serving as Flight Sergeant 88923 RAF and Sergeant Major 88923 RAF respectively.