Sergeant John Adams


Adams in North Irish Horse dress uniform, about 1911


John (Jack) Adams was born on 3 April 1888 at Ballyfatten, Sion Mills, County Tyrone, third child and first son of farmer David Adams and his wife Margaret Jane (nee Adams). The family must have recently returned from overseas, because both Jack's older sisters were born in Victoria, Australia.

Adams enlisted in the North Irish Horse on its formation on 6 July 1908 (No.36), having previously served in its predecessor, the North of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry. He rose to the rank of sergeant.

On 17 August 1914 Adams embarked for France with A Squadron, seeing action in the Retreat from Mons and Advance to the Aisne. In February/March 1915 he and a number of other North Irish Horseman were hospitalised with measles.

Adams father died suddenly on 26 June 1916. This resulted in Jack becoming probably the only serving North Irish Horse rank and file soldier from the Great War to have his name mentioned in the pages of Hansard in the British Parliament. At the end of 1916 Mr William Coote, Member for Tyrone South, asked the Under Secretary of State for War:

... why Sergeant John Adams, North Irish Horse, Antrim, who has served for the stipulated period of eight years and a year extra owing to the War, will not be permitted to return home to assist his widowed mother in the management and working of a farm of fifty acres; is he aware that Sergeant Adams' father died in January, 1916; that at the time of his death his two sons and son-in-law, who constituted the entire male portion of his family, were serving with His Majesty's forces; that since then his aged mother, who is in feeble health, has been left alone to manage her farm; and, considering the necessity for food production and the fact that this man has served his country, and that there are hundreds of homes in Ireland with many sons from amongst whom no one has been taken, will he order this man's discharge, or at least transfer his services to his mother's farm for the seeding down of the land?

The Under Secretary's answer, provided on 12 February 1917, was brief and to the point:

This man was transferred to the Reserve on 3rd January, 1917, and is available for his mother's farm.

Adams was transferred to Class W, Army Reserve (for soldiers whose services were deemed to be more valuable to the country in civil rather than military employment), and allowed to return home to the family farm.

On 6 January 1919 he was discharged under paragraph 392 (xxva) of King's Regulations, being 'surplus to military requirements, not having suffered impairment since his entry into the service'.


John's brother David Adams also served during the war, with the North Irish Horse and Royal Flying Corps.


John Adams with the North of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry at the Curragh, 1905 or 1907