Private Atkinson was the eldest son of Samuel and Minnie Atkinson, 151 Wilmslow Road (formerly Long Lane), Heald Green. The family originated from Knutsford, Cheshire. The 1901 Census shows the family living at 147 Wilmslow Road. Alfred and his older sister, Lucy and younger siblings, Harry and Florence had been born in the Knutsford area. The family must have come to live in the Long Lane area around 1898/99 as his two youngest siblings, Samuel and Mabel had been born there.
Alfred had been employed for about 10 years at Robert Clay's Demmings Bleachworks, Cheadle, when he enlisted into the army at Stockport. When he joined up, he was originally allocated to a Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. His original service number, 206840, was not issued until after the beginning of 1917 and is consistent with him serving with the 4th (Territorial) Battalion. At some point, probably after recovering from wounds or illness, he was transferred to the Shropshires.
Throughout most of August 1918, Alfred will have been in action. For the last week of the month, the battalion had been withdrawn from the attack to re-organise and for the soldiers to clean-up and have some rest. On 2 September a further advance, to become known as the Second Battle of Bapaume, was ordered. At 5.30 am, the Shropshires advanced to attack heavily defended enemy positions on high ground near the village of Lagnicourt. They advanced some 4000 yards - a considerable feat and reached their objective well before other units. However, the battalions on either side of them failed to make progress and the Shropshires could not hold their position and had to withdraw some way to consolidate. Alfred was one of about 40 killed in the attack. Another local man, Peter Wright, was also killed.