Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Alfred Redfern Adams

photo courtesy Mike McQuaid
Alfred Redfern Adams was born in 1898, the son of Alfred and Eleanor (nee Ledsham) Adams of Willaston. Educated at Willaston Council School, Alfred enlisted with Cheshire Yeomanry (No. 1297) in October 1914, aged 16.

Through 1914-1916 Cheshire Yeomanry were on home defence duties on the Norfolk and Suffolk Coast. Alfred had two older brothers, Joseph and Frederick, both of whom served with the 1/7th Bn. Cheshire Regiment and were posted overseas in 1915. During leave in November 1915 had Alfred told his father that he did not want to be left in England with his two brothers serving abroad.

On 26 November Alfred returned to his regiment via train from Crewe, bound for Suffolk and his lodging at Lowestoft. He subsequently wrote to his father. On the evening of 4 December, he returned to his lodgings at 7.25pm. About 20 minutes later his landlady, Mrs. Caroline Gardiner, heard a gunshot from Alfred’s room.

Alone in the house at the time, Mrs. Gardiner ran across the road to seek assistance. Trooper William Frederick Scott (No. 1565, Cheshire Yeomanry) entered Alfred’s room and found him lying across his bed with his rifle and bayonet at his side and a wound by his heart.

The Coroner at his inquest in Lowestoft during December returned a verdict of accidental death.

Alfred Redfern Adams was the earliest casualty of Cheshire Yeomanry in the First World War. He is buried at the church of St Mary the Virgin in the village of Wistaston, Cheshire.

Alfred's two brothers were:
  • Joseph Alfred Adams (1885-1965): 2280 Pte. 1/7th Bn. Cheshire Regiment. 218028 Pte. Home Service Company, Labour Corps. Enlisted 14.09.14. Discharged 06.12.17 aged 31. Wounded. Silver War Badge No. 139,730
  • Frederick Clifford Adams (1886-1970): 60366 Pte. 1/7th Bn. Cheshire Regiment.
A dramatic story of Joseph being wounded was published Nantwich Guardian, on Friday 10 September 1915:
J.A. Adams
Lance-Corporal Joseph Alfred Adams. First 7th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, eldest son of Mrs. Adams, Wistaston-road, Willaston, writing home to his mother gives a vivid account of the fighting at the Dardanelles. He is now in the Government Army Hospital, Alexandria, suffering from a wound. The line was ordered to advance and it made a few short advances when Corporal Adams fell with shrapnel wound in the groin. As he lay there it was like hell, the firing being from all directions. He felt a blow on his foot. He then saw that the toe of his hoot had been almost shot away, but his foot was uninjured. He heard orders given to retire, and immediately afterwards he became unconscious. He regained consciousness in curious manner, a bullet struck the entrenching tool on his back and this aroused him. He raised himself only to find all the ground around on fire. He resolved to make one more struggle for life and set to work to escape from the danger zone. Suffering great agony, he dragged himself to a trench which he found to held by a Welsh regiment. They applied a field dressing and then he crept on until he reached his own regiment. He was afterwards taken by the stretcher bearers to the hospital station. Mrs. Adams has two other sons serving in the Army. Another one is with the First 7th Cheshires, and the third is with the Earl of Chester's Yeomanry. The two at the Dardanelles went out about the third week in July.
Corporal W. Preston was a neighbour of Joseph's at Willaston and serving in the same Regiment. An extract from a letter to the Corporal's mother, published on the same newspaper, gave some further detail of events and his assistance to Joseph Adams:
“We have been fighting since last Monday morning, and I am still in the trenches, but things are quiet at present. Since we landed it has been a lively time. We advanced under shell and rifle fire, and bullets were flying past us all the time. We have had a number of casualties both, officers and men, mostly wounded. Joe Adams [son of a next-door neighbour at Willaston] was wounded in the thigh. It was a nasty wound, but he will pull through all right. I brought him to safety, and then the stretcher bearers took him to the base. . . . . It is shrapnel that is doing all the damage. It killed five out our boys (B Company) yesterday. There are a lot of snipers in the trees, and they are popping away. They dress in our uniform. We got one the other day, and he had 3,000 rounds of ammunition with him. We find the weather so hot.”

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