Son of Sir Harry Albert Atkinson, K.C.M.G. (Prime Minister of New Zealand, 1876-77, 1883-84, 1887-91), and Annie Atkinson.
Husband of Mary H. Atkinson, of Upland Road, Kelburn, Wellington.
When the Great War broke out in 1914, Samuel was a forty-year-old solicitor and law reporter, married with a family of four sons and two daughters, living in Upland Road, Kelburn, Wellington.
On the day of his death, his company had supplied a daylight raiding party on the enemy trenches. The raid was successful but on withdrawing three men were inadvertently left behind. The officer, Lt. Manning, leading the raid went back to hurry them along and being out of breath dropped into a shell hole on the return journey to rest. Capt. Atkinson, watching from the NZ trenches, thought he had been hit and possibly might need assistance, so ran towards him. This impulsive act cost him his life, as before reaching Lt. Manning, he was shot in the throat and killed by a German sniper.
"Fourth son of the late Sir Henry Atkinson, received his first education at Nelson College, coming here in 1889. On leaving School he went to Canterbury College, and finally to Victoria College, where he attended a course of law lectures. At the time of his enlistment he was Law Reporter for Wellington, exhibiting untiring energy and patience in his work. Apart from his professional duties he invariably devoted a large amount of time to Imperial matters, and was at one time a member of the Wellington College Rifles, as well as a Lieutenant in the Officers’ Training Corps at Victoria College. Among many other duties he undertook the secretaryship of the Round Table Magazine, though probably his greatest work lay in conjunction with the late Dr McNab, the two co-operating in an endeavour to rouse in the country a spirit of enthusiasm and sense of duty, a work which culminated in the passing of the Compulsory Military Training Act. He left New Zealand with the 14th Reinforcements, took his place in the trenches towards the end of June, 1916, and died on June 5th the following year, while engaged in the heroic work of attempting to save a brother officer." (In Memoriam, 1914-1918 [Wanganui Collegiate School]) AWMM