Giles was born to the Reverend William Bernard Atherton and his wife Eva. Whitworth. His father was a naval chaplain for many years and his mother, the daughter of a farmer in Buckinghamshire, was a teacher in a school for clergy daughters, prior to her marriage. He was their third and youngest son born at Coberley near Cheltenham. His father was the vicar at St. Giles’s church and it may be assumed that was the reason that he was named Giles. The Reverend Atherton died in 1937 at Coberley.

Giles’s eldest brother, Charles Roger, born in 1905, was a Lieutenant in the RASC when he was killed in manoeuvres in 1928. His brother, Brian Bernard, a Cambridge graduate, 2nd Lieutenant in the 4th Malacca Volunteer Corps, born in 1910, died in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Thailand in 1943.

Giles was educated at Marlborough and matriculated in 1940. He was up at Christ Church for a year and gained a 3rd in Classical Mods.

He was a Lieutenant in the 10th Battalion the Gloucestershire Regiment when he was killed at Pinwe on 24 November 1944. He is buried in Taukkyan War Cemetery, Burma. Plot 7. H. 8.

All the Atherton sons are commemorated in the churchyard of St Giles, Coberley.

10th Gloucesters at Pinwe
 15-26 November 1944
by Major R.S. Butler,

In June 1944, the 10th Gloucesters, after fighting on the Arakan front, joined the Northern Combat Area Command, under the American General Stilwell, who commanded a mixed British-American-Chinese force. Stilwell's first objective was to build and keep open a road from Ledo, in Assam, to China.

The Chinese Divisions were to occupy the Bhamo area, whilst on their right the 36th British Division was to advance down the Myitkyina-Mandalay railway to the area Naba Junction-Katha. Katha was important to the Japanese supply route up the Irrawaddy.

The 36th Division at that time had 2 brigades only, the 29th and 72nd, the 10th Gloucesters being in the latter. After being flown from Ledo to the airstrip near Myitkyina, the Division pushed south along the railway, slowly clearing and repairing the line.

7 November the 72nd Brigade took the lead at Maw Luu, for the advance to Katha. The country was teak forest and visibility was generally some 30 yards. On the right, the 9th Royal Sussex advanced down the railway track. The 6th SWBs went down the dirt road some 800 yards to their left, and the 10th Glosters were in reserve.

The forward battalions encountered stiff opposition from units of the Japanese 18th Imperial Division near Gyobin Chaung, north of Pinwe. The 18th Japanese Division had been prominent in the capture of Singapore and was a very good one. Its patrolling was first class and, for Japanese, its shooting was very accurate. The 10th Glosters were to advance around the left flank to get into the rear of the enemy position at Pinwe. The rest of the Brigade was to attack across the river.

15 November, the Battalion, with some 70 mules, started out over the foothills on their left flank.

The hills were steep and the men heavily laden with weapons, full kit and 3 days rations on their backs. After 2 days the Battalion made it to the rear of the enemy position but were still some 3 miles from Pinwe. Next day the Battalion advanced by compass bearing; but in the afternoon they ran into heavy enemy opposition. With no water in the area and dusk approaching, the battalion pulled back to the foothills for the night.

18 November - During a patrol, Lt. H.L. Gordon was killed.

19 November - orders came to prepare to carry out a frontal attack to capture the Gyobin Chaung and Pinwe railway station. Two British field artillery regiments put down a barrage and an air strike was arranged for the Gyobin Chaung area.

21 November - patrols sent out and Battalion moved up to its assembly area. The enemy positions could not be located due to the thick jungle. 

22 November - After a short bombardment the Battalion advanced at 1000 hrs. "D" Coy. reached the Gyobin Chaung, dealing with the enemy positions they encountered. "C" Coy. came under heavy fire from a well concealed machine gun post that was protected by a ring of snipers. "C" Coy. dug in, Major MacLaurin was wounded during this advance. Capt. O.M. Schryver, crawled out to rescue a wounded man, but was killed in the attempt. "A" Coy. ran into an enemy bunker position, which was dealt with by a 2 platoon attack.

After crossing the Chaung they ran into heavy machine gun and mortar fire. They beat off an enemy attack but all the company's officers were killed (including OC, Major G.E.F. Wethered) or wounded. "B" Coy. followed up and found more of the enemy moving into position on the Chaung behind "A" Coy. They fought off an attack and dug in, but were suffering from snipers hidden in the trees; Major A.C. Steadman (OC "B" Coy.) and his 2 subalterns were killed.

23 November - Patrols pushed out in the morning. More enemy attacks repulsed. Enemy shelling and mortar attacks on the Glosters positions during the day. The Regimental Aid Post was hit by a heavy mortar, the doctor (Captain A.D. Gould, RAMC) and 5 of his staff being killed and 3 others wounded. In the afternoon, a company of the 6th SWBs attacked and dug in on the left of "A" Coy.

24 November - More enemy shelling and mortar fire. Two companies of the 9th Royal Sussex advanced and dug in by "D" Coy.

25 November - 10th Glosters ordered to be relieved the next day.

26 November - Battalion relieved. "D" Coy. spotted an enemy patrol in the open and killed most of them.

Two days later, the Japanese retired from Pinwe.