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Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916

CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916

Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916

Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916

Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

Pte 57389 Joseph Adams

  • Age: 20
  • From: Greenock, Renfrew
  • Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 20th Btn
  • K.I.A Monday 9th April 1917
  • Commemorated at: Henin Crucifix Cem
    Panel Ref: Sp.Mem 1

Joseph Adams was born on 01st June 1896, in Greenock, Scotland and was baptised on 17th June 1896 at St Mary's Roman Catholic Church. He was the youngest son of Edward Adams and his wife Christina (nee Hood) who were married in 1882 in Greenock.  His father was born in Paisley and his mother in Greenock. They had at least six children, found on censuses, all boys.  Joe had older brothers Robert 1885, John 1887, David 1889, Edward 1892, and Angus 1893, all born in Greenock, except for David, who was born in Partick.

At the time of the 1891 census the family was living at 11 Duncan Street, Greenock.
The father, aged 30 is employed as an iron ship plater, his  mother Christina is 28 years of age.  They have four sons: Robert, John, David, and Edward. John appears to have died before the next census.
Ship building was a major industry in the port town.
At the time of the 1901 Census the family were living at 12 Nile Street, Greenock.
His father, Edward, is aged 40 and still employed as an iron ship plater, his mother Christina is 39, with their children, Robert aged 16 is an iron ship platers labourer, David 12 a scholar, Edward 9 a scholar, Angus 8 a scholar, and Joseph aged 4.  

Although the 1911 Scotland census is not available, it appears the family were still at 12 Nile Street throughout the war.  

Prior to the war Joseph was employed at Greenock Post Office. 

He enlisted in Glasgow, in about October 1915, joining the Lowland Divisional Cyclist Company as Private 1164. Prior to departure for service overseas he transferred to the 20th Battalion of the Kings Liverpool Regiment as Private 57389 and was was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of Arras on 09th April 1917, aged 20.

17th,  19th & 20th  Battalion at the  Battle of Arras 09th April 1917

Everard Wyrall records the events of the day  in Volume 2 of his History of the King's Regiment (Liverpool).

The 89th Brigade formed up for the attack with the 19th King's on the right and the 20th King’s on the left. The 17th King’s supplied the “mopping up" parties and he 2nd Bedfords were in close support.

It was just after 3pm when the advance began “According to scheduled time the waves advanced in good style and with determination; everyone was cheerful and in the best of spirits”

That advance is described by others as magnificent. From the OP’s the observing officers saw a wonderful sight – long lines of men advancing steadily up a long and gradual slope towards the enemy’ front line. Then suddenly they disappeared. The observers quite pardonably, imagined that the German front line had fallen into the hands of the assaulting troops and that the latter were on the way to the enemy’s support line. Alas something very different had happened. When the advancing troops had reached the summit of the long slope up which they advanced the ground suddenly dipped before the German front line , and when the observing officers thought they  were already in the Bosche lines they had not, as a matter of fact, even reached the wire. What the observers took to be the front line was really the support line; the front line could not be seen  - it lay just behind the crest of that slight rise in the ground.

The attacking waves of the 19th King’s got within 100 yards of the German wire but were then held up. They were faced by three belts of entanglements, practically untouched by our artillery, and nothing could be done but to dig in or else take shelter in the many shell- shell-with which “No Man’s Land" was pitted. By this time the battalion’s losses were very heavy, and when darkness fell “A" and “B" Companies (about 140 in all) lay in shell-holes, two or three hundred yards north east of St. Martin, but just south of the Cojeul River, and “C" and “D" Companies (140 all ranks) were along the river bank, but on the northern side about 150 yards north east of St. Martin.

The first waves of the 20th King’ advanced at 3.7pm. At 4pm Lieut Beaumont, commanding “A" Company, reported that he had had some forty casualties in passing through the enemy’s barrage. The next message, timed 4.40pm, stated that the position of the battalion at that period was on a crest in front of the enemy’s wire and about 100 yards from it. On the right the 21st Division was observed to have penetrated the enemy’s front line, but in the left the right Battalion of the 21st Brigade (the Wilts) was on the St. Martin- Neuville Vitasse road; the left flank of the 20th King's was, therefore, “ in the air”.

Urgent messages were sent up from Battalion Headquarters to “push on, keeping in touch with right” But little else could be accomplished until those formidable belts of wire had been cut sufficiently to allow the rapid passage of the attacking troops, headed by their bombers.

At 9:30 that night 89th Brigade Headquarters ordered both the 19th and 20th Battalions to withdraw, the former to the two sunken roads running south east from St. Martin, the latter to north west of St. Martin; the guns had been ordered to cut the enemy’s wire during the night in preparation for another attack during the 10th April.

Of the 17th King’s  - the “moppers up" – there is little to relate. There was nothing to “mop up" so that they did not function. Yet they had shared all the perils of the advance, and when  after they had fallen back and at midnight held the following positions, “B", “C", and “D" Companies in and around the sunken road north of Boiry-Becquerelle and “A" Company in trenches west of Henin, they lost 2 officers and 16 other ranks killed, and 3 officers and 48 other ranks wounded. 

He now rests at Henin Crucifix Cemetery, France with a headstone which contains the inscription at the top "Known to be buried in this Cemetery" and contains an epitaph which  reads:


The epitaph comes from Ecclesiasticus 44 verse 13 and was chosen by Rudyard Kipling. These headstones commemorate casualties whose graves in a cemetery were destroyed or who were known to buried in the cemetery but the exact whereabouts within the cemetery were not recorded. 

Henin-sur-Cojeul was captured on 02nd April 1917, lost in March 1918 after an obstinate resistance by the 40th Division, and retaken on 24 August 1918 by the 52nd (Lowland) Division.

Henin Crucifix Cemetery is named from a calvary standing on the opposite side of the road. It was made by units of the 30th Division after the capture of the village in 1917.

Henin Crucifix Cemetery contains 61 burials and commemorations of the First World War. Two of the burials are unidentified and eight graves, destroyed in later fighting, are now represented by special memorials.

The cemetery was designed by G H Goldsmith.

His death was announced in the local newspaper:

“Mr. Edward Adams, 12 Nile Street, is officially informed that his son, Pte. Joseph Adams, was killed in action on April 9th.  The deceased joined up with the Lowland Cycle Coy 18 months ago, but before leaving for active service was transferred to the King’s Liverpool Regiment. Before enlistment he was employed in Greenock Post Office.”
“Killed in action on 9th April, in his 20th year, Private Joseph Adams, K.L.R., youngest beloved son of Edward and Christina Adams, No.12 Nile Street.”
His family paid loving tribute on the anniversary of his death:
“In loving memory of our dear son, Joseph Adams, Lowland Scottish Cycles att. King’s Lrp Regt., who fell in action in France 9th April 1917.  He died that we might live. - Inserted by his sorrowing Mother and Father, 12 Nile Street.”
“ In loving memory of my dear brother, Joseph Adams, Lowland Scottish Cycles att. King’s Lrp Regt., who fell in action in France 9th April 1917.
  To know him was to love him;
    None mention his name but with praise.
  Years may pass, dear brother Joe,
    But your face will never fade.
  For we love you still as dearly,
    Though you lie in your soldier’s grave.
  • Inserted by his sorrowing Brother David, Royal Scots.”
“In loving memory of our dear brother, Joseph Adams, Lowland Scottish Cycles att. King’s Lrp Regt., who fell in action in France 9th April 1917.  To memory ever dear. - Inserted by his sorrowing Sister and Brother, 13 Robinson Avenue, Roxburgh Street, Greenock.”
“ In loving memory of my dear brother, Joseph Adams, Lowland Scottish Cycles att. King’s Lrp Regt., who fell in action in France 9th April 1917.  Peace be thy sleep. - Inserted by his sorrowing Brother Edward, Royal Engineers.”
And after the war:

“In loving remembrance of our dear brother, Joseph, 3rd Lowland Div. Cycle Coy, attached 20th batt. King’s Liverpool Reg’t., who fell in action on the 9th April 1917.  Until the day dawneth. - Inserted by his Brothers, Angus and Edward, 12 Nile Street.”
His parents received his Army effects and a War Gratuity of £6.  No pension card has been found.
The military record of his brother David survives, and reveals a sad story.  He enlisted in Glasgow on 03rd September 1914, giving his occupation as engineer, and next of kin his father Edward, at 12 Nile Street.  David served in France from 29th July 1915 with the Royal Scots Fusiliers and the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. He was evacuated to the U.K. a number of times.  At the end of September 1915 with a gunshot wound to the left thigh, and spent three months in the U.K.  In March 1916 he was “blown up and rendered unconscious” by a high explosive shell in the Hulluch sector and hospitalised for a month in England with shellshock and endocarditis. For six weeks in January 1917 (a notation, undated, states bullet wound to the left side of his head), and for a month in July 1917 with trench foot.  He was transferred to the Royal Defence Corps and discharged on 10th May 1918 aged 26 as permanently unfit, with a Silver War Badge and an 80% disability for neurasthenia (shell shock). David died a few months later on 15th October 1918.
David and Joe are both commemorated on the Broomhill Memorial, Inverclyde.
Joe is commemorated on the Scottish National War Memorial (Highland Cyclist Battalion).
His name does not appear on the Greenock and District Post Office Employees Memorial.
The Greenock War Memorial Committee issued a book of the Men of Greenock Who Fell in the Great War 1914-1918. (Over 1500 men from Greenock gave their lives.) Joseph is listed, battalion shown as 20th King’s London Regiment.
David is commemorated on the Men of Greenock Memorial, but is not recognised on the CWGC.

Their father died in 1920, aged 60.
On the 1921 census just mother Christina is at home.
We currently have no further information on Joseph Adams, If you have or know someone who may be able to add to the history of this soldier, please contact us.   

Killed On This Day.

(108 Years this day)
Tuesday 18th July 1916.
Pte 27346 John Mawdsley
34 years old

(106 Years this day)
Thursday 18th July 1918.
Cpl 106108 William Alexander Unsworth
38 years old