Gilbert Atkins (1899–1917)


Training Reserve TR5/86863 91st Battalion

Gilbert was born at Fritchley, the son of a lime burner. After enlisting in the army he became ill and was transferred to a hospital at Walker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He died there of cerebro-spinal fever in May 1917, aged only eighteen. He was buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s, Crich, and according to the sexton's burial book he died in hospital in the Tynemouth region. He had a half-brother named John Murray who immigrated to Canada as a child, who briefly served in the CEF during WW1.

According to the Sherwood Foresters Roll shortly after the end of the war Gilbert's brother, Isaac Atkins, enrolled in the Sherwood Foresters. He enlisted on 6 February 1919 (Reg No 4962160), aged eighteen years and a stoker by trade. His address was Hilltop, Fritchley, son of Mr and Mrs W. Atkins.

Gilbert was in the Training Reserve. The The Long, Long Trail website has the following information on the Training Reserve.

On 1 September 1916, a considerable reorganisation of the reserve infantry battalions took place. Before this date, most of the infantry regiments contained one or more reserve battalions of the regular and new armies. Recruits would be posted to these battalions for basic training, before they were posted to an active service unit. With the introduction of conscription, the regimental system simply could not cope with numbers, hence this development. The local nature of recruitment for infantry regiments was abandoned and the entire system centralised. After 1 September 1916, regimental distinctions disappeared and the reserve units were instead redesignated as battalions of the Training Reserve. They were organised into new Brigades. No Guards, Irish or TF Battalions converted to the TR, and this change did not affect the Special Reserve or Extra Reserve battalions of the regular army (normally the 3rd and sometimes 4th Battalions of a regiment). The official complement of the Training Reserve was a little over 208,500 soldiers. Men who were posted to the TR battalions were not allocated to any particular regiment when the time came for them to be posted. So from this time on it is not safe to assume that a recruit would serve with his local regiment. Later, from May 1917, this arrangement was itself altered when the units of the TR became Graduated and Young Soldier Battalions and were once again aligned with specific regiments.

Uniform and insignia

The TR units dropped the cap badges and shoulder titles of their former regiments and instead wore a large General Service button on a red disc on the cap and the letters TR as a shoulder title. The men of the three Brigades of Scottish Command (9th, 12th and 18th) wore a Glengarry rather than a service cap. The 9th Brigade wore kilts and hose. All NCOs and men wore the number of their TR Brigade on their sleeve in the form of a cloth patch. The most senior battalion wore its number in white, then the others in red, yellow, green, brown and blue in descending order. The TR shoulder titles were discontinued from June 1917 and the sleeve number in December of that year. Also the cap button was dropped and a red number of the TR battalions replaced it with regimental ones! Officers of the TR continued to wear their regimental uniform and badges.

Gilbert's 91st Batallion was – up to August 1916– the 15th (Reserve) Bn. the York & Lancaster Regiment and 15th East Yorkshire Regiment. It became, in May 1917, the 270th Graduated.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Initials G
Nationality United Kingdom
Rank Private
Regiment/Service Training Reserve
Unit 91st Bn
Date of Death 25/05/1917
Service No TR5/86863
Casualty type Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference North-East of Church

War graves record for Gilbert Atkins in WW1

Headstone for Gilbert Atkins at Crich WW1 casualty

Gilbert Atkins' headstone in St Mary's Churchyard

Soldiers' Effects Book
Atkins Gilbert; 91 T.R.Bn, Private 7R5/86863; death at City Hospital Wallsend 25.5.17; War Gratuity Not Admissable; father William


1901: Fritchley

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
William Atkins Head 44 Lime burner Fritchley
Alice Atkins Wife 30   Alderwasley
George Atkins Son 8 School Fritchley
John Atkins Son 3   Fritchley
Gilbert Atkins Son 1   Fritchley

RG13 piece 3231 folio 11 page 14

1911: Longway Bank, Whatstandwell

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
William Atkin Head (married) 54 Limestone burner Fritchley
Gilbert Atkin Son 13 School Fritchley
Isaac Atkin Son 9   Fritchley
Thomas Atkin Son 3   Fritchley
Eliza Brooks Servant 59 Housekeeper Middleton by Wirksworth

RG14PN21005 RG78PN1253 RD436 SD6 ED3 SN172