Anzac Day: WWII veteran John Atkinson, 98, dies on his way to dawn service

A World War II veteran has died while making his way to an Anzac Day dawn service.

John Atkinson, 98, was travelling to the Port Broughton foreshore in South Australia on Thursday morning when he fell from his mobility scooter, the Yorke Peninsula Country Times reported.

He was helped up but then reportedly fell again.

An ambulance was called but he died at the scene. 

Mr Atkinson featured on the front page of the local newspaper this week.

‘He was very much looking forward to taking part in the dawn service, and later leading the local march from the RSL, as he has done many times before,’ his son, Russell, said.

‘He was so independent and resilient.’ 

Mr Atkinson joined the RAAF in 1943, as soon as he turned 18, to help the war effort.

He served as a transport driver in the Pacific.

‘I wanted to be a rear gunner – I was the right size – but just as well I didn’t, because I wouldn’t be here today, he told the Yorke Peninsula Country Times earlier this week.

‘They used to wash them (dead gunners) out of the aircraft.’ 

His own father Arthur Edwin Atkinson served in Gallipoli and on the Western Front during WWI, and two of his uncles also served.

His brother Fred survived being shot three times while parachuting as an Army commando. 

The Returned and Service League of Australia sent its condolences to Mr Atkinson’s family, saying it was ‘very sad news’.