Rifleman, Rifle Brigade, 13th Bn.
Service No. S/2950
Died 25 October 1916, aged 38
Remembered at Wimereux Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France, at St Mark’s Church, Kennington and on the war shrine at St Michael’s Church, Stockwell Park Road, London SW9 0DA
Chris Burge writes:
Henry Eustace Adams, born in Southwark in 1878, was the youngest son of Robert Adams and Ann (née Lee), who were married at St Martin in the Fields Church in Trafalgar Square in 1863. At the time of Henry’s birth his father was already established as a successful mechanical engineer. By the time of the 1891 census his widowed father Robert lived at 162 Brixton Road (still standing and Grade II listed), with Sidney James, 21; Emily Martha, 17; Fanny, 14; Henry Eustace, 12; and Annie, 10. The family employed a single domestic servant. The house, which is still standing, is a double-fronted Regency villa dating from around 1823, with, at that time, 13 rooms, a basement, attic and coach house.
At the age of 50, Robert Adams was married for a second time, to Louisa Mary Pearce, who was ten years younger. A decade later, the family were still living at 162 Brixton Road, which they had named Victor Lodge.
Henry went to West Cliff School, Ramsgate and City of London School, and matriculated at the University of London in 1900. After qualifying as an architect in 1904 he joined his father’s engineering business and later became a partner.
Henry was educated at West Cliff School, Ramsgate and City of London School, matriculated at the University of London in 1900 and qualified as an architect four years later. He worked in his father’s 30-year-old business at 3 and 5 Emerald Street, near Holborn along with his older brother Sidney James; the brothers later became partners. When Henry’s 70-year-old father completed the 1911 census the household consisted of himself, his wife Louisa Mary, and his children, now all in their 30s: Sidney, Emily, Henry and a domestic servant Annie Dickenson.
On the outbreak of war Henry felt compelled to volunteer. On 9 September 1914, after failing to get into the Royal Engineers, Henry had gone to 32 St Paul’s Churchyard, where he joined the Rifle Brigade. He was 35 years old, 5ft 9½in in height and weighed almost 10½st with a 36in chest. His hair and eyes were brown and he had a fresh complexion and no distinguishing marks other than two moles on his back.
Henry’s father died on 11 September 1914, aged 74. With Henry in the Army, Sidney was left to run the family business.
The part he played in the War and his own fate is described in detail in an entry in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, based on information provided most likely by his older brother Sidney James Adams.
Henry served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from 29 July, 1915. He took part in operations along the British front from Armentieres to Albert and was selected for special duties with the Royal Engineers. in the winter of 1915–16, and was attached to the 147th Army Troop Company, when he was entrusted with the survey of important works connected with the 7th Corps line, which included those in front of the villages of Souastre and St Armand, and prepared the plans which were submitted to Headquarters, and for these services he was highly commended.
He took part in the Battle of the Somme, and died in No. 14 Stationary Hospital, Wimereux, 25 October from complications arising from exposure in the field, after being wounded in action between Contalmaison and Pozières on 10 July.
A comrade wrote:
We had been carrying bombs, etc., up to the front line, a small party of about eight, and we succeeded in getting through a terrible barrage to our destination safely. We were told to take shelter in the front line for a time. It was then he [Adams] got hit by a piece of shrapnel. As things did not get better, we were told to make our way back, and, of course, take Mr. Adams with us; but he absolutely refused to let us do so, saying he did not want to jeapardize [sic] our young lives in attempting to save his. We were all so sorry to leave him, for he was highly respected by us all, and he was always looked upon as our adviser owing to his superior knowledge on almost everything possible to think of.
Henry had left a will in favour of Sidney and probate was granted on 23 October 1917, amounting to £3171 12s 6d. At the end of the war Henry’s brother had preferred to deal with the Army’s officialdom via his family solicitor. In 1920, there was confusion over a communication printed with the words ‘army service effects’, containing the sum of £9. This was a war gratuity payment and not the personal effects that Sidney still longed to have, as his solicitor pointed out: ‘Our client is very anxious to have his brother’s effects, and we would be obliged if you will have a special enquiry made about them…’ There is no record that any of Henry’s personal belongings were ever returned to his brother.
Mr S.J. Adams was listed among those who made an additional subscription to the Stockwell Memorial fund when it was officially unveiled in 1922, as reported in The Brixton Free Press on 5 May 1922. In 1927, aged 57, Sidney married Dorothy Winifred Passmore. The couple, along with Sidney’s sister Emily, lived at 162 Brixton Road until 1937 when Sidney passed away at the age of 67.