Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Corporal William Hanna Adams


Adams WH


William Hanna Adams was born on 3 March 1885 at Gate End, Ballymoney, County Antrim, the first of thirteen children of labourer John Adams and his wife Sarah (nee Workman). The family moved to Belfast around 1889. By 1901 he was living with his parents and five siblings at 61 Dundella Street, Belfast, and working as a labourer in the tram stables.

On 25 November 1908 he married factory worker Maggie Wilson Ross at Coleraine. He gave his occupation at the time as coachman. The couple had three children over the next eight years.

Adams enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim between 10 June and 6 July 1915 (No.1700).

At the end of December 1916 he was one of forty North Irish Horsemen who volunteered to transfer to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (No.40635). The formal transfer took place on 9 January 1917, the same day they embarked for France, where they were posted to the 10th Battalion, joining it at Ploegsteert Wood on the Ypres front. Adams was posted to B Company.

On 8 August 1917 Adams was killed in action during the opening phase of the Third Battle of Ypres. The battalion war diary for the day reads:

The enemy at intervals shelled the front line & supports ... The shells are mostly H.E. of large calibre, with a good few shrapnel and armour piercing shells. The total casualties, including last nights are:- 2 Other Ranks killed, 24 O.Rs. gassed and 18 O.Rs. wounded. "B" Company suffered very heavily in casualties.

As he has no known grave, Corporal Adams is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlanderen, Belgium, Panel 22.

Soon after his death a local newspaper reported that:

Amongst the saddest of the casualties which have been recorded this week is the death in action of Corporal William H. Adams, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Brook Street, Coleraine, who leaves a young widow and four children to mourn his loss. Confirmation of the death came on Tuesday in a letter from Captain Paton, M.C., who wrote to Mrs. Adams, as follows:-- "I am sorry to have to tell you of the death of Corporal William H. Adams, Inniskillings, on the 9th inst. He was killed by a shell in the trenches, and I buried him near the place where he fell. He was saved suffering, which is a great thing. He was a good soldier, and will be greatly missed; and I write to extend to you the heartfelt sympathy of all the officers and men in the battalion. May God in His goodness comfort you at this time. We all feel that death is not the barrier it used to appear, and that our fallen comrades are with us in spirit, as I am sure your husband is with you." Corporal Adams was a breadserver in the employment of Messrs. A. Reid & Son, Coleraine, and was one of the smartest troopers in the cavalry section of the U.V.F. In June, 1915, he joined the North Irish Horse, and in that branch of Ulster's fighting forces his skill as a horseman won him early promotion to the rank of sergeant. In November, 1916, he was transferred to the Inniskillings (Derry Volunteers), and soon afterwards went to France, where he was promoted in the infantry to the rank of corporal. He was a well-known member of the Orange and the Black Institutions, being connected with L.O.L. No. 355 and R.B.P. No. 99.


Family memorial in Coleraine Cemetery


Menin Gate Memorial image provided by Steve Rogers, Project Co-ordinator of the The War Graves Photographic Project, www.twgpp.org. My thanks to Denise Greatorex for providing the newspaper report. Coleraine Cemetery image kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com).