Private Richard William Adams, 1st/6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment was killed in action on 2nd December 1916, as was Private Percy Sears of the Army Service Corps, attached 2nd/1st (South Midland) Field Ambulance.
Richard William Adams was the elder of the two sons of parents, Ralph Mountney Adams (a farmer) and Gertrude Amelia (née Smith). He was born on 25th November 1895 in Denstone, Staffordshire, although Soldiers Died in the Great War gives Richard’s place of birth as Blaby, Derbyshire [sic]. His parents were also both born in Staffordshire, and his younger brother, Ralph Mountney Adams, was born in East Farndon, Northamptonshire in 1897.
The family was still in East Farndon in 1909 when Ralph Mountney Adams (senior) died, aged 34. His widow and youngest son had moved to Marston Trussell, Leicestershire by 1911, although we don’t know why Richard wasn’t with his mother and brother. His mother, Gertrude, apparently known as Gerty, went on to remarry in 1912, and had moved to Laxton, Northamptonshire by 1939.
Richard must have moved to Warwickshire sometime before enlisting in the Army. He joined the Army in Knowle, and is commemorated on the Temple Balsall war memorial, and on the memorial plaque in St Peter’s Church, Balsall Common. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Percy Sears (listed as Seers in some records) was born in Hampton-in-Arden on 23rd November 1897 and was the 11th of 13 children (8 boys, 5 girls). By 1901, his parents, Samuel (an agricultural labourer) and Eliza, were living in Bickenhill with their eight youngest children, including Percy who attended Bickenhill School.
Samuel died in 1904, aged 55, and his widow was living in Hampton in 1911 with seven of her sons. The eldest son, Henry, was married and had left home. The five girls had also moved out. Percy was living in the family home, aged 13, and was listed as a farm worker.
De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour indicates that Percy joined the Army on 10th November 1914 and served with the Expeditionary Force in France from 13th June 1915. He was killed in action almost 18 months later and his mother received a letter from his commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel George Mackie:
He was killed instantaneously this morning by a German shell, which exploded close by him, as he was taking a horse ambulance waggon out to bring in some sick and wounded men. He was riding the leading horses – we use four horses to each waggon here – and both his horses were killed by the same shell. This happened in the main street of a small village five miles behind our front line, a place where, in the ordinary course of events, one would expect to be safe, but with the long-range guns that are now in use there is no safety anywhere, although this was really a chance shot.
His friend, Lander, was riding the other pair – wheelers – and he was wounded, though not very badly, and the RAMC Orderly on the box was also hit by flying fragments. The occurrence has cast a great gloom over the whole unit, officers and men alike, with all of whom your son was a general favourite, and if it is any satisfaction to you or his mother to know the details, I may tell you that the shell fell less than half a mile from our camp. We brought his body back here in a car, and here it lies with us to-night. To-morrow he will be buried in our presence in the village cemetery, by our senior chaplain, and all the officers and men will attend.
He was one of our hardest-working and happiest boys, always cheerful and apparently liking his work, though often having to suffer great inconvenience, discomfort and hardship. I had a chat with him last night at 9pm, when I was going round to see how all the men were housed. He assured me with his usual smile that he was quite all right, and that I need not worry about him and his mates, as they were well able to look after themselves.
Driver Percy Sears is buried at Aveluy Communal Cemetery Extension, and is also commemorated locally on war memorials at Bickenhill and Elmdon.
If you have any more information about either of these men, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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