Biography

Also Known as: Jack Adams
Birth date: 26 September 1890
Birth place: United Kingdom: England
Death date: 21 June 1981
Death place: Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Concord
Final rank: Lieutenant
Service number: 255 - First World War, 1914-1918
Units:
  • 14th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • 2nd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 56th Australian Infantry Battalion

John Adams was born at Combe Florey in the county of Somerset, England, on 26 September 1890. Prior to the First World War he migrated to Australia and worked as a valet. Military service was not new to Adams, as he had served with the Royal Navy for two-and-a-half years, and he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force on 18 August 1914, a month before his 24th birthday. It was around this time that he also started documenting his experiences in his diary, a practice that he would continue until mid-1916. After two months of training he departed Sydney with the 2nd Infantry Battalion aboard HMAT Suffolk on 18 October 1914.

Adams and the 2nd Battalion were part of the second and third waves sent ashore at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. He writes extensively about the landing in his diary, particularly about the confusion that pervaded the initial stages and his attempts to find members of his battalion during the subsequent days. Although Adams remained with his unit until the evacuation in December 1915, he was wounded on several occasions. During the battle of Lone Pine in August the glass of the periscope he was looking through was shattered and his eyesight was damaged. In September 1915 he was knocked unconscious by a loop-hole plate sent flying by shell-fire.

After being transferred to the newly formed 54th Infantry Battalion in February 1916, Adams served during its first major engagement on the Western Front, the disastrous battle of Fromelles. He was promoted to lieutenant on 2 August 1916, having risen quickly through the non-commissioned ranks. In April 1917 he was Mentioned in the Despatches of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, Commander of the British Expeditionary Force, for his work as an intelligence officer with 14th Brigade headquarters and also for his actions at Fromelles. This was followed by the receipt of the Military Cross in June 1918 for his work as an intelligence officer during the winter campaign on the Somme and his subsequent conduct in Belgium during 1917 on return to his battalion. It was reported that his "fearlessness, gallantry and devotion to duty" left a good impression on those with whom he came into contact. Adams was later awarded a bar to his Military Cross for "conspicuous gallantry and brilliant leadership during the operations at Peronne" in 1918, where he was wounded while rushing a machine-gun post.

After the war Adams left for Australia on 6 May 1919, though he would briefly return to England to be married. John Adams died at the age of 90 at Concord, New South Wales, on 21 June 1981.

Rolls and Awards

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 18 October 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Sydney

Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files

  • Rank: Company Quartermaster Sergeant
  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : French Croix de Guerre

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Mention in despatches

  • Unit: 14th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Bar to Military Cross

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : French Croix de Guerre

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Bar to Military Cross

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Bar to Military Cross

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Military Cross

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Distinguished Service Order

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Bar to Military Cross

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Mention in despatches

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Military Cross

  • Unit: 54th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Private Record

Adams, John MC & Bar (Lieutenant, b:1890-d:1981)

Collection relating to the First World War service of Lt John Adams MM & Bar, 54th Battalion. Collections consists of a diary covering the period August 1914 to September 1917. Entries include training at Victoria Barracks in Sydney, service at Gallipoli and the Western Front including the Somme. ... Maker:

PR01919 (With records)

Adams, John MC & Bar (Lieutenant, b:1890-d:1981)

German pay book kept by Lieutenant Adams while serving in the 54th battalion of the AIF. Maker:

PR00998

Digitised Collection

Diary and photograph of John Adams, 1914-1916

Diary and photograph relating to the First World War service of 255 Lieutenant John Adams, 54th Battalion. Included in this file is a diary that spans the period from 11 August 1914 to 20 July 1916, and a photograph of Adams contained in the front cover pocket that was taken at Gueudecourt in 1916...

RCDIG0000862

Letters and documents relating to John Adams, 1917-1921

Letters relating to the First World War Service of 255 Lieutenant John Adams, 54th Battalion. Included in this file is a series of letters to Adams from various senior officers congratulating him on being awarded the Military Cross and Bar as well as his general good conduct. Also included is a...

RCDIG0000863

Timeline

Date of birth 1890-09-26
Date of embarkation 1914-10-18
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-03-04
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-12-21
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-03-08
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-04
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-07
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-08
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-10-26
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-10-27
Date of death 1981-06-21