The Airmen's Stories - P/O H D Atkinson
Harold Derrick Atkinson was born at Wintringham, Yorkshire on 19th August 1918, the son of Frederick Atkinson (1878-1918) and Adelaide Jane Atkinson (1890-1975 nee Coverdale).
After her husband's death Adelaide married the Rev. David Graham Evans in October 1921. He was the vicar of Market Weighton from 1936 to 1943.
HD Atkinson was educated at Aysgarth Preparatory School and then Shrewsbury School from 1932 to 1937, where he was a member of the First XI.
He entered RAF College Cranwell as a Flight Cadet in September 1937 and graduated in July 1939.
Atkinson joined 213 Squadron at Wittering. He went with the squadron to Merville in France on 17th May 1940. On the 18th Atkinson destroyed a Me110 north-west of Douai. He shared in the destruction of a Hs126 on the 19th and also shared a Do215 the next day.
The stay in France was a short one, with 213 returning to England on the 21st, 'A' Flight going to Manston and 'B' Flight to Wittering.
The squadron took part in the operations covering the evacuation of Dunkirk.
On 27th and 28th May Atkinson shot down Me109s and on the 29th he claimed a He 111 destroyed and shared in damaging a Ju88. For his successes during May, Atkinson was awarded the DFC (gazetted 25th June 1940).
213 Squadron was based at Exeter in August 1940 and over a period of seven days Atkinson claimed the destruction of six enemy aircraft, on the 12th two Me110s, on the 13th a Me110 and on the 14th a He111. In this last action he returned to Exeter in Hurricane R4099 damaged by return fire from a He111 engaged over Lyme Bay. He was slightly wounded by shell splinters in the arm.
On the 16th Atkinson claimed a Me109 and another two days later.
He failed to return from a combat over Warmwell on 25th August. His aircraft, Hurricane P2766, crashed into the sea but Atkinson's body was washed ashore on 28th August and he is buried in Market Weighton Cemetery, Yorkshire.
His mother sponsored new choir stalls at Market Weighton Church as a memorial to her son. The choir and clergy stalls are the work of Robert 'the Mouseman' Thompson.