John Adams was born in the parish of St. Michael’s near Coventry in the County of Warwickshire, England on 24 November 1881, the son of Jabez Adams, a Clothier by trade, and his wife Lucy.
On 26 April 1900 he completed the Militia Attestation Forms at Ashton under Lyne joining the 4th battalion of the Cheshire Regiment and being assigned no. 4445 with the rank of Private.
By way of occupation he was employed as a Cabinet Maker by John Walker and was resident at 119 Crawford Street, Ashton U Lyne. He was single and physically, a diminutive 5 feet 3 inches in height with a fresh complexion, Dark Hazel eyes and chestnut coloured hair. A member of the Church of England, Adams had a mole 2 inches above his left nipple by way of distinguishing characteristics. He weighed a slender 110 pounds.
Having completed his papers Adams was embodied on 2 July 1900 and proceeded to South Africa. His regimental number changed to 4044 and he earned the Cape Colony and Orange Free State clasps to the Queens South Africa Medal for his role in the conflict. The medal roll was signed at Bethulie Bridge (in the Orange Free State)
John Adams continued to serve through the second or guerrilla phase of the war and was awarded the Kings South Africa Medal with clasps South Africa 1901 and 1902 for his efforts. Having returned with his Regiment to England and being disembodied on 10 May 1902, he joined the Royal Navy four months later on 18 September 1902.
On joining at Chatham he was assigned no. 345490 and the rank of Seaman. He described his occupation as Cabinet Maker and signed up for 12 years. Physically he was described as being 5 foot 4 inches in height with brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion. He was 26 years old and had a tattoo of a Lady on his forearm and a scar on his cheek.
Until 31 December 1904 he served in Pembroke II with a Very Good rating before being transferred to Hermes where he served as Cabin Crew from 22 January 1904 until 27 February 1905.
From there it was on to Pembroke where he served from 28 February 1905 until 29 January 1906. A transfer to Ramilles ensued from 30 January 1906 until Adams, having had enough of naval life, ended his service, by purchase, on 22 July 1906. The reason advanced for his discharge by purchase was “Applicant desirous of supporting aged parents”.
It is not known exactly when Adams set course for a new life in South Africa but he met and married his wife Sarah Gertrude in Johannesburg on 10 March 1913 and was more than likely there when war broke out on 4 August 1914. He attested at Potchefstroom for service with “C” Company of the 7th S.A. Infantry Battalion for service in German East Africa on 4 December 1915.
According to the records held in the S.A.N.D.F. Archives in Pretoria, Adams was 34 years old and married to Sarah Adams. They were resident at Devon Road, Kensington East, Johannesburg. His mother, Lucy Adams, who was partially dependent on him, resided at Room 35, Standard Building, Johannesburg. Adams confirmed that he had seen service in the Boer War for 2 years with the 4th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment and that he had been in the Royal Navy. Physically not much had changed although he now had fair hair as opposed to brown and was a member of the Church of England. He was employed by the Chamber of Mines as a Timberman.
Having been assigned no. 2602 and the rank of Private he was passed as Fit for service on 2 December 1915. On 20 January 1916 he embarked aboard the “Professor Woerman” for East Africa. Having returned to South Africa he was granted 1 months recuperative leave until 26 April 1917. A Medical Report in respect of an Invalid completed at Congella, Durban on 23 February 1917 recorded that Adams had contracted Malaria at Irangi in January 1916, soon after his arrival. In the Statement of Case mention is made that “I have not had malaria or dysentery. I felt run down and this since the end of December – a general feeling of lassitude. I have not lost weight”
Adams was discharged from the army on 10 October 1917 and was credited with a Military Character of Very Good. He was allowed to claim service of 1 year 318 days. The British War Medal and Victory Medal to which he was entitled was despatched to him on 30 November 1922.
He passed away at the age of 83 on 10 July 1964 at 2 Lytton Crescent in Pinetown, Natal of Bronchopneumonia. He was survived by his sister and heir, Rose Violet Mitchell and had been a Joiner in the Building Trade before being pensioned off.