Rupert Atkinson was the elder son of Mr Brenan Atkinson, a prominent architect, of Shanghai, China and Mrs Atkinson of High Kelton, Doctors Commons Road, Berkhamsted. Born in 1896, he was educated at Orley Farm School, Harrow and at Marlborough College (Preshute). He went up to Pembroke College, Cambridge, in June 1914. In the following September he joined the 16th (Public Schools) Battalion, Middlesex Regiment and obtained his commission in the 15th Middlesex in December 1914.
On July 28, 1915, Atkinson proceeded to Cameroon, where he was attached to the West African Regiment, throughout the campaign. Invalided home in April 1916, by August he had joined the R.F.C. and obtained his pilot’s certificate. From November 1916 when he was posted to the Western front until the Armistice, he was engaged almost continuously in artillery observation, photography, night-bombing and low-flying machine gun work. Promoted to Captain in July 1917, he became flight commander shortly afterwards.
Captain Atkinson received the M.C. in 1917 for a daring and successful attack on enemy observation balloons, the D.F.C. in 1918 and the Belgian Croix de Guerre in 1919 when he was also recommended for a bar to his D.F.C. He returned home on leave from Cologne at the end of February 1919 and died of pneumonia, following influenza, on March 7th 1919. Rupert had announced his engagement to Margaret Hillier the previous month. He was just 22 years old, having survived four and a half years war service. His headstone sits in a prominent position next to the Arch at the centre of the Cemetery.