On 30 May 42, about 4 miles S of Bir El Hamat, Sgt (now SSM) Atkins who was commanding a troop of Stuart tanks, was ordered by his Sqn Leader to investigate a concentration of vehicles which appeared on the skyline, moving across the front of the Squadron.

On discovering that these vehicles, some 50 MET with 2 guns, were enemy, instantly he led his troop at speed into them, destroyed 7 lorries and capturing 3 prisoners, before being forced to withdraw by the appearance from the North of 20 enemy Mk. III tanks.

His quick appreciation of the situation, and offensive action, checked the enemy’s advance and drew off tanks which were moving North to reinforce their own force, then engaged in a battle with our armour, in the HARMAT area.

This was the first occasion he had led a troop in battle, his troop leader having been wounded 3 days previously.

On 4 June 42, in the area BIR EL HALAZIAN, while on patrol, he was attacked by 3 German Mk IV tanks and one A/Tk gun which attempted to drive him off his position of observation, from which he was reporting accurately enemy concentrations.

By clever handling of his troop, he damaged one enemy tank and killed the crew of the A/Tk gun, forcing the enemy to withdraw.

By maintaining his position, his reports were instrumental in the subsequent air support, whereby the R.A.F. dealt satisfactorily with the target in question.

After the opening day of the battle when his Sqn suffered heavy losses, Atkins was both commanding a troop and acting SSM. He carried out this dual role during the subsequent withdrawal at the end of June when his Sqn formed part of a mobile column of motor infantry and artillery.

During days and nights of exhausting marches and highly mobile rearguard fighting Atkins displayed great energy in the performance of his duties, and was an inspiration to the N.C.O.s and men in his Sqn.

After 10 days of rest, his Sqn went forward again, remaining in the forward area near HIMEIMAT and in contact with the enemy for 8 weeks. During this period of activity and continuous alertness, Atkins was SSM.

Throughout the period he showed outstanding devotion to duty.

C Goulburn
Lt Col
Commanding 8th K.R.I. Hussars

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