Gilbert Frederick Britten passed the matriculation examination of the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1903. Continuing his studies at Rhodes University College he was awarded the degree Bachelor of Arts (BA) by the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1906. The next year he entered the public service of the Cape Colony and in 1911 was promoted from assistant analyst to analyst in the Department of Agriculture, Cape Town. In this position he was responsible for the analysis of fertilizers, farm foods and pest remedies. Following the re-organisation of the public service after the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 he was appointed on 1 April 1912 as second grade assistant in the Government Analytical Laboratory in Cape Town.
After the outbreak of World War I (1914-1918) Britten was appointed to commissioned rank in the Citizen Force Section of the South African Medical Corps. He was appointed analyst in 1916 and in 1918 designated as officer analyst.
In collaboration with W. Versfeld*, Britten published "Notes on the chemistry of the !Nares plant (Acanthosicyos horrida Hook f.)" in the Report of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science (1915, pp. 232-238). He followed this up two years later with "Sea bamboo (Ecklonia buccinales) as a source of potash" (Ibid, 1917, pp. 105-115).
Britten served as honorary secretary and treasurer of the Cape Chemical Society from 1910 10 1914. He became a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science in 1910, when its annual congress was held in Cape Town, and that year served as the association's assistant general secretary.
He married Nina Cecile Berrange in Cape Town and they had one son.